Numerical eddy-resolving modeling of the ocean: Mesoscale and sub-mesoscale examples


Purpose. The study addresses rotational motion of geophysical fluids in the horizontal and vertical planes. It is aimed mainly at tracing the development of high-resolution numerical modeling of the ocean, as well as at demonstrating new physical processes due to more correct consideration both of the tides in the eddy-resolving numerical models and sub-mesoscale dynamics in the models of the sea straits. Methods and Results. The ocean eddies and their interaction with tides are studied using numerical simulations by four NEMO models for the European North-West shelf with the resolutions ranging from 7 to 1.5 km. The vertical characteristics of motion in the Bosporus Strait were studied using numerical simulations with SCHISM, the unstructured grid model with the ultra-fine model resolution (less than 100 m). The barotropic tidal forcing resulted in substantial flattening of the slopes of the spectral curves. The most important difference between the spectral features of four models occurs in the motion rotational component. In the model with the 1.5 km resolution, the magnitude of the vorticity power spectral density at the scales ~ 70 km is by an order of magnitude higher than in the other three models. Although most of the tidal flattening is associated with the internal tides, beyond a certain horizontal resolution, the eddy dynamics become affected by the barotropic tides. The shelf of the Biscay Bay and the shallows around the Faroe Islands are the most sensitive areas to adding of the barotropic tides to the model forcing. Due to the grid ultra-fine resolution, new elements of physical motion emerged in the Bosporus region. The lateral circulation is dominated by the systems of multiple circulation cells with the scales ~ 1 km. In some areas, the lateral flow magnitude exceeds 0.5 m/s, which is comparable with the magnitude of the axial flow. This reveals importance of the helical elements of the strait circulation for overturning of water masses in the Bosporus. Conclusions. Without proper resolution, the models of tidal oceanic dynamics simulate the ocean general circulation, but do not describe correctly the energy cascades at the eddy scales including interaction between the tides and the mesoscale eddies. Absence of this sub-mesoscale dynamics in the models can largely affect their capability to simulate the two-layer inter-basin exchange.
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