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van der Wiel, K, Gille ST, Smith SGL, Linden PF, Cenedese C.  2017.  Characteristics of colliding sea breeze gravity current fronts: a laboratory study. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. 143:1434-1441.   10.1002/qj.3015   AbstractWebsite

Sea and land breeze circulations driven by surface temperature differences between land and sea often evolve into gravity currents with sharp fronts. Along narrow peninsulas, islands and enclosed seas, sea/land breeze fronts from opposing shorelines may converge and collide and may initiate deep convection and heavy precipitation. Here we investigate the collision of two sea breeze gravity current fronts in an analogue laboratory setting. We examine these collisions by means of 'lock-exchange' experiments in a rectangular channel. The effects of differences in gravity current density and height are studied. Upon collision, a sharp front separating the two currents develops. For symmetric collisions ( the same current densities and heights) this front is vertical and stationary. For asymmetric collisions ( density differences, similar heights) the front is tilted, changes shape in time and propagates in the same direction as the heavier current before the collision. Both symmetric and asymmetric collisions lead to upward displacement of fluid from the gravity currents and mixing along the plane of contact. The amount of mixing along the collision front decreases with asymmetry. Height differences impact post-collision horizontal propagation: there is significant propagation in the same direction as the higher current before collision, independent of density differences. Collisions of two gravity current fronts force sustained ascending motions which increase the potential for deep convection. From our experiments we conclude that this potential is larger in stationary collision fronts from symmetric sea breeze collisions than in propagating collision fronts from asymmetric sea breeze collisions.

Carranza, MM, Gille ST, Piola AR, Charo M, Romero SI.  2017.  Wind modulation of upwelling at the shelf-break front off Patagonia: Observational evidence. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 122:2401-2421.   10.1002/2016jc012059   AbstractWebsite

The South-Atlantic Patagonian shelf is the largest chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) hot spot in Southern Ocean color images. While a persistent 1500 km long band of high Chl-a along the shelf-break front (SBF) is indicative of upwelling, the mechanisms that drive it are not entirely known. Along-front wind oscillations can enhance upwelling and provide a nutrient pumping mechanism at shelf-break fronts of western boundary currents. Here we assess wind-induced upwelling at the SBF off Patagonia from daily satellite Chl-a and winds, historical hydrographic observations, cross-shelf Chl-a fluorescence transects from two cruises, and in situ winds and water column structure from a mooring site. Satellite Chl-a composites segregated by along-front wind direction indicate that surface Chl-a is enhanced at the SBF with southerly winds and suppressed with northerly winds. Northerly winds also result in enhanced Chl-a further offshore (similar to 25-50 km). Synoptic transects as well as mean hydrographic sections segregated by along-front winds show isopycnals tilted upward for southerly winds. Spring observations from the mooring also suggest that southerly winds destratify the water column and northerly winds restratify, in agreement with Ekman transport interacting with the front. Moreover, changes in water column temperature lag along-front wind forcing by 2-4 days. Our results suggest that oscillations in along-front winds, on timescales typical of atmospheric storms (2-10 days), can significantly modulate the upwelling and Chl-a concentrations at the SBF off Patagonia, revealing the importance of wind-induced upwelling for shelf-slope exchange at shelf-break fronts of western boundary currents.

Zilberman, NV, Roemmich DH, Gille ST.  2017.  The East Pacific Rise current: Topographic enhancement of the interior flow in the South Pacific Ocean. Geophysical Research Letters. 44:277-285.   10.1002/2016gl069039   AbstractWebsite

Observations of absolute velocity based on Argo float profiles and trajectories in the ocean interior show evidence for an equatorward current, the East Pacific Rise current, between 42 degrees S and 30 degrees S, along the western flank of the East Pacific Rise. The East Pacific Rise current carries predominantly intermediate water masses, including Subantarctic Mode Water and Antarctic Intermediate Water, and deeper waters, from the southern edge of the subtropical gyre toward the Equator. The 2004 to 2014 mean East Pacific Rise current transport extrapolated through the 0-2600m depth range is 8.11.6 sverdrup (Sv) (1 Sv=10(6)m(3)s(-1)), consistent with a wind-driven interior transport influenced by the East Pacific Rise topography. While deep ocean mixing and geothermal heating can both create pressure gradients that support geostrophic flows in the deep ocean, this study indicates that about half of the East Pacific Rise current transport is associated with topographic steering of the deep flow over the East Pacific Rise.

Rocha, CB, Gille ST, Chereskin TK, Menemenlis D.  2016.  Seasonality of submesoscale dynamics in the Kuroshio Extension. Geophysical Research Letters. 43:11304-11311.   10.1002/2016gl071349   AbstractWebsite

Recent studies show that the vigorous seasonal cycle of the mixed layer modulates upper ocean submesoscale turbulence. Here we provide model-based evidence that the seasonally changing upper ocean stratification in the Kuroshio Extension also modulates submesoscale (here 10-100 km) inertia-gravity waves. Summertime restratification weakens submesoscale turbulence but enhances inertia-gravity waves near the surface. Thus, submesoscale turbulence and inertia-gravity waves undergo vigorous out-of-phase seasonal cycles. These results imply a strong seasonal modulation of the accuracy of geostrophic velocity diagnosed from submesoscale sea surface height delivered by the Surface Water and Ocean Topography satellite mission.

Jones, JM, Gille ST, Goosse H, Abram NJ, Canziani PO, Charman DJ, Clem KR, Crosta X, de Lavergne C, Eisenman I, England MH, Fogt RL, Frankcombe LM, Marshall GJ, Masson-Delmotte V, Morrison AK, Orsi AJ, Raphael MN, Renwick JA, Schneider DP, Simpkins GR, Steig EJ, Stenni B, Swingedouw D, Vance TR.  2016.  Assessing recent trends in high-latitude Southern Hemisphere surface climate. Nature Climate Change. 6:917-926.   10.1038/nclimate3103   AbstractWebsite

Understanding the causes of recent climatic trends and variability in the high-latitude Southern Hemisphere is hampered by a short instrumental record. Here, we analyse recent atmosphere, surface ocean and sea-ice observations in this region and assess their trends in the context of palaeoclimate records and climate model simulations. Over the 36-year satellite era, significant linear trends in annual mean sea-ice extent, surface temperature and sea-level pressure are superimposed on large interannual to decadal variability. Most observed trends, however, are not unusual when compared with Antarctic palaeoclimate records of the past two centuries. With the exception of the positive trend in the Southern Annular Mode, climate model simulations that include anthropogenic forcing are not compatible with the observed trends. This suggests that natural variability overwhelms the forced response in the observations, but the models may not fully represent this natural variability or may overestimate the magnitude of the forced response.

Wang, J, Mazloff M, Gille ST.  2016.  The effect of the Kerguelen Plateau on the ocean circulation. Journal of Physical Oceanography.   10.1175/JPO-D-15-0216.1   Abstract

The Kerguelen Plateau is a major topographic feature in the Southern Ocean. Located in the Indian sector and spanning nearly 2,000 kilometers in the meridional direction from the polar to the Subantarctic region, it deflects the eastward flowing Antarctic Circumpolar Current and influences the physical circulation and biogeochemistry of the Southern Ocean. The Kerguelen Plateau is known to govern the local dynamics, but its impact on the large-scale ocean circulation has not been explored. By comparing global ocean numerical simulations with and without the Kerguelen Plateau we identify two major Kerguelen Plateau effects: 1) The plateau supports a local pressure field that pushes the Antarctic Circumpolar Current northward. This process reduces the warm water transport from the Indian to the Atlantic Oceans. 2) The plateau-generated pressure field shields the Weddell Gyre from the influence of the warmer Subantarctic and Subtropical waters. The first effect influences the strength of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and the Agulhas leakage, both of which are important elements in the global thermohaline circulation. The second effect results in a zonally asymmetric response of the subpolar gyres to Southern Hemisphere wind forcing.

Rodriguez, AR, Mazloff MR, Gille ST.  2016.  An oceanic heat transport pathway to the Amundsen Sea Embayment. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 121:3337-3349.   10.1002/2015jc011402   AbstractWebsite

The Amundsen Sea Embayment (ASE) on the West Antarctic coastline has been identified as a region of accelerated glacial melting. A Southern Ocean State Estimate (SOSE) is analyzed over the 2005-2010 time period in the Amundsen Sea region. The SOSE oceanic heat budget reveals that the contribution of parameterized small-scale mixing to the heat content of the ASE waters is small compared to advection and local air-sea heat flux, both of which contribute significantly to the heat content of the ASE waters. Above the permanent pycnocline, the local air-sea flux dominates the heat budget and is controlled by seasonal changes in sea ice coverage. Overall, between 2005 and 2010, the model shows a net heating in the surface above the pycnocline within the ASE. Sea water below the permanent pycnocline is isolated from the influence of air-sea heat fluxes, and thus, the divergence of heat advection is the major contributor to increased oceanic heat content of these waters. Oceanic transport of mass and heat into the ASE is dominated by the cross-shelf input and is primarily geostrophic below the permanent pycnocline. Diagnosis of the time-mean SOSE vorticity budget along the continental shelf slope indicates that the cross-shelf transport is sustained by vorticity input from the localized wind-stress curl over the shelf break.

Li, XC, Xie SP, Gille ST, Yoo C.  2016.  Atlantic-induced pan-tropical climate change over the past three decades. Nature Climate Change. 6:275-+.   10.1038/nclimate2840   AbstractWebsite

During the past three decades, tropical sea surface temperature (SST) has shown dipole-like trends, with warming over the tropical Atlantic and Indo-western Pacific but cooling over the eastern Pacific. Competing hypotheses relate this cooling, identified as a driver of the global warming hiatus(1,2), to the warming trends in either the Atlantic(3,4) or Indian Ocean(5). However, the mechanisms, the relative importance and the interactions between these teleconnections remain unclear. Using a state-of-the-art climate model, we show that the Atlantic plays a key role in initiating the tropical-wide teleconnection, and the Atlantic-induced anomalies contribute similar to 55-75% of the tropical SST and circulation changes during the satellite era. The Atlantic warming drives easterly wind anomalies over the Indo-western Pacific as Kelvin waves and westerly anomalies over the eastern Pacific as Rossby waves. The wind changes induce an Indo-western Pacific warming through the wind-evaporation-SST effect(6,7), and this warming intensifies the La Nina-type response in the tropical Pacific by enhancing the easterly trade winds and through the Bjerknes ocean dynamical processes(8). The teleconnection develops into a tropical-wide SST dipole pattern. This mechanism, supported by observations and a hierarchy of climate models, reveals that the tropical ocean basins are more tightly connected than previously thought.

Rocha, CB, Chereskin TK, Gille ST, Menemenlis D.  2016.  Mesoscale to submesoscale wavenumber spectra in Drake Passage. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 46:601-620.   10.1175/jpo-d-15-0087.1   AbstractWebsite

This study discusses the upper-ocean (0-200 m) horizontal wavenumber spectra in the Drake Passage from 13 yr of shipboard ADCP measurements, altimeter data, and a high-resolution numerical simulation. At scales between 10 and 200 km, the ADCP kinetic energy spectra approximately follow a k(-3) power law. The observed flows are more energetic at the surface, but the shape of the kinetic energy spectra is independent of depth. These characteristics resemble predictions of isotropic interior quasigeostrophic turbulence. The ratio of across-track to along-track kinetic energy spectra, however, significantly departs from the expectation of isotropic interior quasigeostrophic turbulence. The inconsistency is dramatic at scales smaller than 40 km. A Helmholtz decomposition of the ADCP spectra and analyses of synthetic and numerical model data show that horizontally divergent, ageostrophic flows account for the discrepancy between the observed spectra and predictions of isotropic interior quasigeostrophic turbulence. In Drake Passage, ageostrophic motions appear to be dominated by inertia-gravity waves and account for about half of the near-surface kinetic energy at scales between 10 and 40 km. Model results indicate that ageostrophic flows imprint on the sea surface, accounting for about half of the sea surface height variance between 10 and 40 km.

Shao, AE, Gille ST, Mecking S, Thompson L.  2015.  Properties of the Subantarctic Front and Polar Front from the skewness of sea level anomaly. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 120:5179-5193.   10.1002/2015jc010723   AbstractWebsite

The region of the Southern Ocean that encompasses the Subantarctic Front (SAF) to the north and the Polar Front (PF) to the south contains most of the transport of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Here skewness of sea level anomaly (SLA) from 1992 to 2013 is coupled with a meandering Gaussian jetw model to estimate the mean position, meridional width, and the percent variance that each front contributes to total SLA variability. The SAF and PF have comparable widths (85 km) in the circumpolar average, but their widths differ significantly in the East Pacific Basin (85 and 60 km, respectively). Interannual variability in the positions of the SAF and PF are also estimated using annual subsets of the SLA data from 1993 to 2012. The PF position has enhanced variability near strong topographic features such as the Kerguelen Plateau, the Campbell Plateau east of New Zealand, and downstream of Drake Passage. Neither the SAF nor the PF showed a robust meridional trend over the 20 year period. The Southern Annular Mode was significantly correlated with basin-averaged SAF and PF positions in the East Pacific and with the PF south of Australia. A correlation between the PF and the basin-scale wind stress curl anomaly was also found in the western extratropical Pacific but not in other basins.

Chen, R, Gille ST, McClean JL, Flierl GR, Griesel A.  2015.  A multi-wavenumber theory for eddy diffusivities and its application to the southeast Pacific (DIMES) region. Journal of Physical Oceanography. : American Meteorological Society   10.1175/JPO-D-14-0229.1   Abstract

AbstractA multi-wavenumber theory is formulated to represent eddy diffusivities. It expands on earlier single-wavenumber theories and includes the wide range of wavenumbers encompassed in eddy motions. In the limiting case in which ocean eddies are only composed of a single wavenumber, the multi-wavenumber theory is equivalent to the single wavenumber theory, and both show mixing suppression by the eddy propagation relative to the mean flow. The multi-wavenumber theory was tested in a region of the Southern Ocean (70°S ? 45°S, 110°W ? 20°W) that covers the Drake Passage and includes the tracer/float release locations during the Diapycnal and Isopycnal Mixing Experiment in the Southern Ocean (DIMES). Cross-stream eddy diffusivities and mixing lengths were estimated in this region from the single-wavenumber theory, from the multi-wavenumber theory, and from floats deployed in a global 1/10° Parallel Ocean Program (POP) simulation. Compared to the single-wavenumber theory, the horizontal structures of cross-stream mixing lengths from the multi-wavenumber theory agree better with the simulated float-based estimates at almost all depth levels. The multi-wavenumber theory better represents the vertical structure of cross-stream mixing lengths both inside and outside the Antarctica Circumpolar Current (ACC). Both the single-wavenumber and multi-wavenumber theories represent the horizontal structures of cross-stream diffusivities, which resemble the eddy kinetic energy patterns.

Carranza, MM, Gille ST.  2015.  Southern Ocean wind-driven entrainment enhances satellite chlorophyll-a through the summer. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 120:304-323.   10.1002/2014jc010203   AbstractWebsite

Despite being the largest High Nitrate Low Chlorophyll (HNLC) region, the Southern Ocean sustains phytoplankton blooms through the summer, when presumably there is sufficient light, but nutrients in the euphotic zone have been depleted. Physical processes that can potentially supply nutrients from subsurface waters to the euphotic zone, and promote phytoplankton growth in the summer, have not been fully explored at the large scale. By means of a correlation analysis, this study combines high-resolution satellite observations of ocean color, winds and sea surface temperature, surface heat fluxes from reanalysis and Argo mixed-layer depth (MLD) estimates to explore the role of the atmospheric forcing (i.e., winds and surface heat fluxes) on upper ocean processes that may help sustain high satellite chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) through the summer. Two physical processes that can supply nutrients to the euphotic zone are: MLD deepening, caused by wind-mixing and/or surface cooling, and Ekman pumping driven by the wind stress curl. We find that high winds correlate with high Chl-a over broad open ocean areas, suggesting that transient MLD deepening through wind-mixing (i.e., wind-driven entrainment) helps sustain high Chl-a. Wind-driven entrainment plays a dominant role on time scales associated with atmospheric synoptic storms (i.e., <10 days) and has a larger influence on surface Chl-a than storm scale local Ekman pumping. Based on our analysis of statistically significant correlation patterns, we identify regions in the Southern Ocean where wind-induced entrainment may play a role in sustaining summer phytoplankton blooms.

Mazloff, MR, Gille ST, Cornuelle B.  2014.  Improving the geoid: Combining altimetry and mean dynamic topography in the California coastal ocean. Geophysical Research Letters. 41:8944-8952.   10.1002/2014gl062402   AbstractWebsite

Satellite gravity mapping missions, altimeters, and other platforms have allowed the Earth's geoid to be mapped over the ocean to a horizontal resolution of approximately 100km with an uncertainty of less than 10cm. At finer resolution this uncertainty increases to greater than 10cm. Achieving greater accuracy requires accurate estimates of the dynamic ocean topography (DOT). In this study two DOT estimates for the California Current System with uncertainties less than 10cm are used to solve for a geoid correction field. The derived field increases the consistency between the DOTs and along-track altimetric observations, suggesting it is a useful correction to the gravitational field. The correction is large compared to the dynamic ocean topography, with a magnitude of 15cm and significant structure, especially near the coast. The results are evidence that modern high-resolution dynamic ocean topography products can be used to improve estimates of the geoid.

Gille, ST, Carranza MM, Cambra R, Morrow R.  2014.  Wind-induced upwelling in the Kerguelen Plateau region. Biogeosciences. 11:6389-6400.   10.5194/bg-11-6389-2014   AbstractWebsite

In contrast to most of the Southern Ocean, the Kerguelen Plateau supports an unusually strong spring chlorophyll (Chl a) bloom, likely because the euphotic zone in the region is supplied with higher iron concentrations. This study uses satellite wind, sea surface temperature (SST), and ocean color data to explore the impact of wind-driven processes on upwelling of cold (presumably iron-rich) water to the euphotic zone. Results show that, in the Kerguelen region, cold SSTs correlate with high wind speeds, implying that wind-mixing leads to enhanced vertical mixing. Cold SSTs also correlate with negative wind-stress curl, implying that Ekman pumping can further enhance upwelling. In the moderate to high eddy kinetic energy (EKE) regions surrounding Kerguelen, we find evidence of coupling between winds and SST gradients associated with mesoscale eddies, which can locally modulate the wind-stress curl. This coupling introduces persistent wind-stress curl patterns and Ekman pumping around these long-lived eddies, which may modulate the evolution of Chl a in the downstream plume far offshore. Close to the plateau, this eddy coupling breaks down. Kerguelen has a significant wind shadow on its downwind side, which changes position depending on the prevailing wind and which generates a wind-stress curl dipole that shifts location depending on wind direction. This leads to locally enhanced Ekman pumping for a few hundred kilometers downstream from the Kerguelen Plateau; Chl a values tend to be more elevated in places where wind-stress curl induces Ekman upwelling than in locations of downwelling, although the estimated upwelling rates are too small for this relationship to derive from direct effects on upward iron supply, and thus other processes, which remain to be determined, must also be involved in the establishment of these correlations. During the October and November (2011) KErguelen Ocean and Plateau compared Study (KEOPS-2) field program, wind conditions were fairly typical for the region, with enhanced Ekman upwelling expected to the north of the Kerguelen Islands.

Gille, ST, Smith SGL.  2014.  When land breezes collide: Converging diurnal winds over small bodies of water. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. 140:2573-2581.   10.1002/qj.2322   AbstractWebsite

Over enclosed and semi-enclosed bodies of water, the land-breeze/sea-breeze circulation is expected to be modified by the presence of opposing coastlines. These effects are studied using satellite scatterometer surface wind observations from the QuikSCAT and ADEOS-2 tandem mission from April-October 2003. Winds are studied for six bodies of water: the Red Sea, the Gulf of California, the Mediterranean, the Adriatic Sea, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. These bodies of water are large enough for the geographic orientation of the diurnal winds relative to the coastline to match the expected orientation for a straight coastline. Land breezes from opposite coastlines converge in the middle of these bodies of water, and in some cases the convergence line is shifted substantially away from the midpoint between opposite coastlines. Displacements in the convergence line appear likely to be explained by differences in the strength of the diurnal winds emanating from opposite coastlines associated with differential heating or island/peninsula effects, and by geographic displacements associated with large-scale mean wind patterns.

Drushka, K, Gille ST, Sprintall J.  2014.  The diurnal salinity cycle in the tropics. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 119:5874-5890.   10.1002/2014jc009924   AbstractWebsite

Observations from 35 tropical moorings are used to characterize the diurnal cycle in salinity at 1 m depth. The amplitude of diurnal salinity anomalies is up to 0.01 psu and more typically approximate to 0.005 psu. Diurnal variations in precipitation and vertical entrainment appear to be the dominant drivers of diurnal salinity variability, with evaporation also contributing. Areas where these processes are strong are expected to have relatively strong salinity cycles: the eastern Atlantic and Pacific equatorial regions, the southwestern Bay of Bengal, the Amazon outflow region, and the Indo-Pacific warm pool. We hypothesize that salinity anomalies resulting from precipitation and evaporation are initially trapped very near the surface and may not be observed at the 1 m instrument depths until they are mixed downward. As a result, the pattern of diurnal salinity variations is not only dependent on the strength of the forcing terms, but also on the phasing of winds and convective overturning. A comparison of mixed-layer depth computed with hourly and with daily averaged salinity reveals that diurnal salinity variability can have a significant effect on upper ocean stratification, suggesting that representing diurnal salinity variability could potentially improve air-sea interaction in climate models. Comparisons between salinity observations from moorings and from the Aquarius satellite (level 2 version 3.0 data) reveal that the typical difference between ascending-node and descending-node Aquarius salinity is an order of magnitude greater than the observed diurnal salinity anomalies at 1 m depth.

Chen, R, McClean JL, Gille ST, Griesel A.  2014.  Isopycnal eddy diffusivities and critical layers in the Kuroshio Extension from an eddying ocean model. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 44:2191-2211.   10.1175/jpo-d-13-0258.1   AbstractWebsite

High spatial resolution isopycnal diffusivities are estimated in the Kuroshio Extension (KE) region (28 degrees-40 degrees N, 120 degrees-190 degrees E) from a global 1/10 degrees Parallel Ocean Program (POP) simulation. The numerical float tracks are binned using a clustering approach. The number of tracks in each bin is thus roughly the same leading to diffusivity estimates that converge better than those in bins defined by a regular geographic grid. Cross-stream diffusivities are elevated in the southern recirculation gyre region, near topographic obstacles and downstream in the KE jet, where the flow has weakened. Along-stream diffusivities, which are much larger than cross-stream diffusivities, correlate well with the magnitudes of eddy velocity. The KE jet suppresses cross-stream mixing only in some longitude ranges. This study estimates the critical layer depth both from linear local baroclinic instability analysis and from eddy phase speeds in the POP model using the Radon transform. The latter is a better predictor of large mixing length in the cross-stream direction. Critical layer theory is most applicable in the intense jet regions away from topography.

Gille, ST.  2014.  Meridional displacement of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society a-Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences. 372   10.1098/rsta.2013.0273   AbstractWebsite

Observed long-term warming trends in the Southern Ocean have been interpreted as a sign of increased poleward eddy heat transport or of a poleward displacement of the entire Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) frontal system. The two-decade-long record from satellite altimetry is an important source of information for evaluating the mechanisms governing these trends. While several recent studies have used sea surface height contours to index ACC frontal displacements, here altimeter data are instead used to track the latitude of mean ACC transport. Altimetric height contours indicate a poleward trend, regardless of whether they are associated with ACC fronts. The zonally averaged transport latitude index shows no long-term trend, implying that ACC meridional shifts determined from sea surface height might be associated with large-scale changes in sea surface height more than with localized shifts in frontal positions. The transport latitude index is weakly sensitive to the Southern Annular Mode, but is uncorrelated with El Nino/Southern Oscillation.

Wang, JB, Mazloff MR, Gille ST.  2014.  Pathways of the Agulhas waters poleward of 29 degrees S. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 119:4234-4250.   10.1002/2014jc010049   AbstractWebsite

Passive tracers are advected in a Southern Ocean State Estimate (SOSE) to map the pathways of Agulhas waters, with a focus on determining where the Agulhas waters intrude into the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC). Results show that Agulhas waters spread into all three ocean basins within 3 years of release. After leaving the African continent, the mean Agulhas water pathway tilts northwest toward the South Atlantic and southeast toward the ACC. The majority (from 60% to 100% depending on specific water mass) of the Agulhas waters stay in the South Indian Ocean north of the Sub-Antarctic Front. From 10 to 28% enters the South Atlantic Ocean through the boundary current along the southern tip of South Africa and via Agulhas rings in the retroflection region. Up to 12% of intermediate depth Agulhas waters enter the ACC. Most of the tracer transport into the ACC occurs just downstream of the Kerguelen Plateau, which clearly demonstrates the importance of topography in elevating cross-frontal exchange. Agulhas waters also contribute to Sub-Antarctic Mode Water formation in the Southeast Indian Ocean by lateral advection. The surface Agulhas waters are preconditioned by strong surface buoyancy loss before turning into mode water, while the intermediate Agulhas waters are advected to the mode water formation region along isopycnals before being drawn into the mixed layer.

Zilberman, NV, Roemmich DH, Gille ST.  2014.  Meridional volume transport in the South Pacific: Mean and SAM-related variability. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 119:2658-2678.   10.1002/2013jc009688   AbstractWebsite

The large increase in upper-ocean sampling during the past decade enables improved estimation of the mean meridional volume transport in the midlatitude South Pacific, and hence of the climatically important Meridional Overturning Circulation. Transport is computed using Argo float profile data for geostrophic shear and trajectory data for reference velocities at 1000 m. For the period 2004-2012, the mean geostrophic transport across 32 degrees S is 20.66.0 Sv in the top 2000 m of the ocean. From west to east, this includes the southward East Australian Current (23.32.9 Sv), its northward recirculation (16.33.6 Sv), the broad interior northward flow (18.4 +/- 4.1 Sv), and the net northward flow (9.2 +/- 2.2 Sv) in opposing currents in the eastern Pacific. The basin-integrated geostrophic transport includes 7.3 +/- 0.9 Sv of surface and thermocline waters, 4.9 +/- 1.0 Sv of Subantarctic Mode Water, and 4.9 +/- 1.4 Sv of Antarctic Intermediate Water. Interannual variability in volume transport across 32 degrees S in the South Pacific shows a Southern Annual Mode signature characterized by an increase during the positive phase of the Southern Annular Mode and a decrease during the negative phase. Maximum amplitudes in geostrophic transport anomalies, seen in the East Australian Current and East Australian Current recirculation, are consistent with wind stress curl anomalies near the western boundary. Key Points Improved meridional volume transport in the South Pacific using Argo EAC transport variability tied to the SAM

Griesel, A, McClean JL, Gille ST, Sprintall J, Eden C.  2014.  Eulerian and Lagrangian isopycnal eddy diffusivities in the Southern Ocean of an eddying model. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 44:644-661.   10.1175/jpo-d-13-039.1   AbstractWebsite

Lagrangian isopycnal diffusivities quantify the along-isopycnal mixing of any tracer with mean gradients along isopycnal surfaces. They are studied in the Southern Ocean of the 1/10 degrees Parallel Ocean Program (POP) model using more than 50 000 float trajectories. Concurrent Eulerian isopycnal diffusivities are estimated directly from the eddy fluxes and mean tracer gradients. Consistency, spatial variation, and relation to mean jets are evaluated. The diffusivities are calculated in bins large enough to reduce contributions from the rotational components that do not lead to net tracer mixing. Because the mean jets are nonzonal and nonparallel, meridional dispersion includes standing eddies and is significantly different from cross-stream dispersion. With the subtraction of the local Eulerian mean, the full Lagrangian diffusivity tensor can be estimated. Along-stream diffusivities are about 6 times larger than cross-stream diffusivities. Along-streamline averages of Eulerian and Lagrangian isopycnal diffusivities are similar in that they are larger north of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) and smaller in the ACC in the upper 500 m. Eulerian diffusivities are often twice as large as the Lagrangian diffusivities below 500 m. There is large longitudinal variability in the diffusivities and in their relation to the mean flow. In bins with one prominent jet, diffusivities are reduced at the surface in the jet and increased to the north and south of the jet. There is a local maximum at depths of 500-1000 m. In other bins where mean jets merge and diverge because of topography, there is no consistent relation of the diffusivities with the mean flow. Eulerian fluxes are upgradient in about 15% of the bins.

Drushka, K, Sprintall J, Gille ST.  2014.  Subseasonal variations in salinity and barrier-layer thickness in the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 119:805-823.   10.1002/2013jc009422   AbstractWebsite

The barrier layer, the layer between the bottom of the density-defined mixed layer and the isothermal layer in the upper ocean, may play a role in air-sea dynamics. In the present study, data from Argo profiling floats in the tropical Indian Ocean and a mooring at 90 degrees E, 0 degrees N are used to examine subseasonal variations in upper ocean salinity and barrier-layer thickness (BLT) during boreal winter. In the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean, subseasonal variations in BLT are energetic. However, composites used to isolate the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) component of the subseasonal signal reveal that, on average, the MJO anomaly in BLT is negligible despite large swings in both the mixed-layer depth and the isothermal-layer depth. This discrepancy is likely due to (a) noise from other subseasonal processes; and (b) the diversity of individual MJO events: the thickness of the mixed layer and the isothermal layer are sensitive to wind and rain forcing, so even subtle differences in the phasing and strength of MJO-related atmospheric anomalies can produce a very different effect on upper ocean stratification and hence on the thickness of the barrier layer. The effect of the barrier layer on the upper ocean response to MJO forcing is also evaluated. When the barrier layer is thick, entrainment cooling during the MJO is reduced, so the MJO drives a weaker sea surface temperature anomaly. This suggests that modulation of BLT can have significant consequences for the response of the upper ocean to the MJO, and hence, potentially, for feedbacks of the ocean onto the atmosphere on MJO time scales.

Jiang, CL, Gille ST, Sprintall J, Sweeney C.  2014.  Drake Passage oceanic pCO(2): Evaluating CMIP5 coupled carbon-climate models using in situ observations. Journal of Climate. 27:76-100.   10.1175/jcli-d-12-00571.1   AbstractWebsite

Surface water partial pressure of CO2 (pCO(2)) variations in Drake Passage are examined using decade-long underway shipboard measurements. North of the Polar Front (PF), the observed pCO(2) shows a seasonal cycle that peaks annually in August and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC)-forced variations are significant. Just south of the PF, pCO(2) shows a small seasonal cycle that peaks annually in February, reflecting the opposing effects of changes in SST and DIC in the surface waters. At the PF, the wintertime pCO(2) is nearly in equilibrium with the atmosphere, leading to a small sea-to-air CO2 flux.These observations are used to evaluate eight available Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, phase 5 (CMIP5), Earth system models (ESMs). Six ESMs reproduce the observed annual-mean pCO(2) values averaged over the Drake Passage region. However, the model amplitude of the pCO(2) seasonal cycle exceeds the observed amplitude of the pCO(2) seasonal cycle because of the model biases in SST and surface DIC. North of the PF, deep winter mixed layers play a larger role in pCO(2) variations in the models than they do in observations. Four ESMs show elevated wintertime pCO(2) near the PF, causing a significant sea-to-air CO2 flux. Wintertime winds in these models are generally stronger than the satellite-derived winds. This not only magnifies the sea-to-air CO2 flux but also upwells DIC-rich water to the surface and drives strong equatorward Ekman currents. These strong model currents likely advect the upwelled DIC farther equatorward, as strong stratification in the models precludes subduction below the mixed layer.

Bourassa, MA, Gille ST, Bitz C, Carlson D, Cerovecki I, Clayson CA, Cronin MF, Drennan WM, Fairall CW, Hoffman RN, Magnusdottir G, Pinker RT, Renfrew IA, Serreze M, Speer K, Talley LD, Wick GA.  2013.  High-latitude ocean and sea ice surface fluxes: Challenges for climate research. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 94:403-423.   10.1175/bams-d-11-00244.1   AbstractWebsite

Polar regions have great sensitivity to climate forcing; however, understanding of the physical processes coupling the atmosphere and ocean in these regions is relatively poor. Improving our knowledge of high-latitute surface fluxes will require close collaboration among meteorologists, oceanographers, ice physicists, and climatologists, and between observationalists and modelers, as well as new combinations of in situ measurements and satellite remote sensing. This article describes the deficiencies in our current state of knowledge about air-sea surface fluxes in high latitutes, the sensitivity of various high-latitude processes to changes in surface fluxes, and the scientific requirements for surface fluxes at high latitutdes. We inventory the reasons, both logistical and physical, why existing flux products do not meet these requirements. Capturing an annual cycle in fluxes requires that instruments function through long periods of cold polar darkness, often far from support services, in situations subject to icing and extreme wave conditions. Furthermore, frequent cloud cover at high latitudes restricts the avilability of surface and atmospheric data from visible and infrared (IR) wavelength satellite sensors. Recommendations are made for improving high-latitude fluxes, including 1) acquiring more in situ observations, 2) developing improved satellite-flux-observing capabilities, 3) making observations and flux products more accessible, and 4) encouraging flux intercomparisons.

Stephenson, GR, Gille ST, Sprintall J.  2013.  Processes controlling upper-ocean heat content in Drake Passage. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 118:4409-4423.   10.1002/jgrc.20315   AbstractWebsite

A 16 year record of expendable bathythermograph transects across Drake Passage is used to examine variability in upper-ocean heat content that is not associated with the annual cycle. Links between upper-ocean heat content and anomalous heat fluxes, winds, two large-scale climate indices, and mesoscale eddies and meanders are examined. Results suggest that interannual variations in surface heat fluxes explain approximate to 5 to 10% of the variance in upper-ocean heat content. Anomalous surface heat fluxes are linked to meridional wind anomalies upstream of Drake Passage, which in turn are linked to forcing by El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Southern Annular Mode (SAM). ENSO and SAM are correlated with upper-ocean heat content at near-zero lags, and statistically significant correlations occur at longer time lags as well. The impact of mesoscale eddies and meanders on upper-ocean heat content is explored with the use of a tracked eddy database. An empirical relationship is constructed relating upper-ocean heat content anomalies to eddy length scales and amplitudes. Eddies and meanders are estimated to account for more than one third of the nonannual cycle variance in Drake Passage upper-ocean heat content.