Impact of oceanic-scale interactions on the seasonal modulation of ocean dynamics by the atmosphere

Type Article
Date 2014-12-15
Language English
Author(s) Sasaki Hideharu1, Klein Patrice2, Qiu Bo3, Sasai Yoshikazu4
Affiliation(s) 1 : Application Laboratory, JAMSTEC, 3173-25 Showa-machi, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 236-0001, Japan
2 : Laboratoire de Physique des Oceans, IFREMER-CNRS-UBO-IRD, Plouzane 29280, France
3 : Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1000 Pope Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA
4 : Research and Development Center for Global Change, JAMSTEC, 3173-25 Showa-machi, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 236-0001, Japan
Source Nature Communications (2041-1723) (Nature Publishing Group), 2014-12-15 , Vol. 5 , P. 1-8
DOI 10.1038/ncomms6636
WOS© Times Cited 166
Keyword(s) Earth sciences, Oceanography
Abstract Ocean eddies (with a size of 100-300 km), ubiquitous in satellite observations, are known to represent about 80% of the total ocean kinetic energy. Recent studies have pointed out the unexpected role of smaller oceanic structures (with 1-50 km scales) in generating and sustaining these eddies. The interpretation proposed so far invokes the internal instability resulting from the large-scale interaction between upper and interior oceanic layers. Here we show, using a new high-resolution simulation of the realistic North Pacific Ocean, that ocean eddies are instead sustained by a different process that involves small-scale mixed-layer instabilities set up by large-scale atmospheric forcing in winter. This leads to a seasonal evolution of the eddy kinetic energy in a very large part of this ocean, with an amplitude varying by a factor almost equal to 2. Perspectives in terms of the impacts on climate dynamics and future satellite observational systems are briefly discussed.
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