High‐frequency Submesoscale Motions Enhance the Upward Vertical Heat Transport in the Global Ocean

Type Article
Date 2020-09
Language English
Author(s) Su Zhan1, Torres Hector2, Klein Patrice3, Thompson Andrew F4, Siegelman Lia5, Wang Jinbo, Menemenlis Dimitris, Hill Christopher
Affiliation(s) 1 : Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
2 : Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
3 : IFREMER, CNRS, France
4 : Environmental Science and Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
5 : Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Source Journal Of Geophysical Research-oceans (2169-9275) (American Geophysical Union), 2020-09 , Vol. 125 , N. 9 , P. e2020JC016544 (13p.)
DOI 10.1029/2020JC016544
Keyword(s) ocean heat transport</AUTHOR_KEYWORD>, high frequency</AUTHOR_KEYWORD>, ocean front</AUTHOR_KEYWORD>, eddies</AUTHOR_KEYWORD>, eddy transport</AUTHOR_KEYWORD>
Abstract

he rate of ocean heat uptake depends on the mechanisms that transport heat between the surface and the ocean interior. A recent study found that the vertical heat transport driven by motions with scales smaller than 50 km (submesoscales) and frequencies smaller than one day‐1 is upward. This transport competes with the other major components of the global heat transport, namely the downward heat transport explained by the large‐scale wind‐driven vertical circulation and vertical diffusion at small scales, and the upward heat transport associated with mesoscale eddies (50‐300 km size). The contribution from motions with small spatial scales (< 50 km) and frequencies larger than one day‐1, including internal gravity waves, has never been explicitly estimated.

This study investigates this high‐frequency (sub‐daily) submesoscale contribution to the global heat transport. The major result of this study, based on the analysis of a high‐resolution ocean model, is that including this high‐frequency contribution surprisingly doubles the upward heat transport due to submesoscales in winter in the global ocean. This contribution typically concerns depths down to 200‐500 m and can have a magnitude of up to 500 W/m2 in terms of heat fluxes at 40 m depth during winter, which causes a significant upward heat transport of ~7 PW when integrated over the global ocean. Thus, such submesoscale heat transport, which is not resolved by climate models, impacts the heat uptake in the global ocean. The mechanisms involved in these results still need to be understood, which should be the scope of future work.

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How to cite 

Su Zhan, Torres Hector, Klein Patrice, Thompson Andrew F, Siegelman Lia, Wang Jinbo, Menemenlis Dimitris, Hill Christopher (2020). High‐frequency Submesoscale Motions Enhance the Upward Vertical Heat Transport in the Global Ocean. Journal Of Geophysical Research-oceans, 125(9), e2020JC016544 (13p.). Publisher's official version : https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JC016544 , Open Access version : https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00643/75508/