The effect of tides on internal variability in the Bohai and Yellow Sea


The hydrodynamics of marginal seas exhibit internal variability unprovoked by external forcing. To date, the role of tides in reducing this “noise” has not been evaluated. We investigated the effect of tides on internal variability in the Bohai and Yellow Sea. To do so, we conducted three ensembles of numerical experiments using the three-dimensional Finite-Volume Coastal Ocean Model (FVCOM) with tidal forcing, with “half-tidal” forcing, and without tidal forcing, while everything else was unchanged, and determined the intensity of the signal-to-noise ratio (hereinafter referred to as the S/N ratio), with the “signal” represented by the variance of the coherent variations of the different simulations subject to the same atmospheric variability and the noise represented by the intra-ensemble variance. The S/N ratio was determined for depth-averaged velocities, surface temperature, and surface salinity. The first result was that in all three ensembles, noise emerged but with different intensities. In the ensemble with tidal forcing, unprovoked variability emerged primarily at smaller scales. When the tides were weakened or turned off, the S/N ratios were reduced, more so in the Yellow Sea than in the Bohai. The increase in the S/N ratio was largest for large scales and for depth-averaged velocities. The reduction in tidal forcing resulted in an approximately 30% increase in S/N ratios in the Bohai at large scales. Thus, the absence of tidal forcing favored the emergence of increased unprovoked variability at large and medium scales but not at small scales. A hypothesis for explaining this scale-selective effect of tides, based on the stochastic climate model, was suggested.
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