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Formulation and implementation of a residual-mean ocean circulation model

Ferreira, D. and Marshall, J. (2006) Formulation and implementation of a residual-mean ocean circulation model. Ocean modelling, 13 (1). pp. 86-107. ISSN 1463-5003

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.ocemod.2005.12.001


A parameterization of mesoscale eddies in coarse-resolution ocean general circulation models (GCM) is formulated and implemented using a residual-mean formalism. In that framework, mean buoyancy is advected by the residual velocity (the sum of the Eulerian and eddy-induced velocities) and modified by a residual flux which accounts for the diabatic effects of mesoscale eddies. The residual velocity is obtained by stepping forward a residual-mean momentum equation in which eddy stresses appear as forcing terms. Study of the spatial distribution of eddy stresses, derived by using them as control parameters to ‘‘fit’’ the residual-mean model to observations, supports the idea that eddy stresses can be likened to a vertical down-gradient flux of momentum with a coefficient which is constant in the vertical. The residual eddy flux is set to zero in the ocean interior, where mesoscale eddies are assumed to be quasi-adiabatic, but is parameterized by a horizontal down-gradient diffusivity near the surface where eddies develop a diabatic component as they stir properties horizontally across steep isopycnals. The residual-mean model is implemented and tested in the MIT general circulation model. It is shown that the resulting model (1) has a climatology that is superior to that obtained using the Gent and McWilliams parameterization scheme with a spatially uniform diffusivity and (2) allows one to significantly reduce the (spurious) horizontal viscosity used in coarse resolution GCMs.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:37623
Publisher:Elsevier Inc.

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