The dynamics of mixed layer deepening during open-ocean convection
AuthorSohail, T; Gayen, B; Hogg, AM
Source TitleJournal of Physical Oceanography
PublisherAmerican Meteorological Society
University of Melbourne Author/sGayen, Bishakhdatta
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsSohail, T., Gayen, B. & Hogg, A. M. (2020). The dynamics of mixed layer deepening during open-ocean convection. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 50 (6), pp.1625-1641. https://doi.org/10.1175/JPO-D-19-0264.1.
Access StatusOpen Access
ARC Grant codeARC/FT180100037
Open-ocean convection is a common phenomenon that regulates mixed layer depth and ocean ventilation in the high-latitude oceans. However, many climate model simulations overestimate mixed layer depth during open-ocean convection, resulting in excessive formation of dense water in some regions. The physical processes controlling transient mixed layer depth during open-ocean convection are examined using two different numerical models: a high-resolution, turbulence-resolving nonhydrostatic model and a large-scale hydrostatic ocean model. An isolated destabilizing buoyancy flux is imposed at the surface of both models and a quasi-equilibrium flow is allowed to develop. Mixed layer depth in the turbulence-resolving and large-scale models closely aligns with existing scaling theories. However, the large-scale model has an anomalously deep mixed layer prior to quasi-equilibrium. This transient mixed layer depth bias is a consequence of the lack of resolved turbulent convection in the model, which delays the onset of baroclinic instability. These findings suggest that in order to reduce mixed layer biases in ocean simulations, parameterizations of the connection between baroclinic instability and convection need to be addressed.
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