3 years ago

Impact of the Mesoscale Dynamics on Ocean Deep Convection: The 2012-2013 Case Study in the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea

Jerome Chanut, Robin Waldman, Herve Giordani, Thomas Arsouze, Samuel Somot, Rachid Benshila, Florence Sevault, Anthony Bosse, Marine Herrmann, Pierre Testor
Winter 2012-2013 was a particularly intense and well-observed Dense Water Formation (DWF) event in the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea. In this study, we investigate the impact of the mesoscale dynamics on DWF. We perform two perturbed initial state simulation ensembles from summer 2012 to 2013, respectively mesoscale-permitting and mesoscale-resolving, with the AGRIF refinement tool in the Mediterranean configuration NEMOMED12. The mean impact of the mesoscale on DWF occurs mainly through the high-resolution physics and not the high-resolution bathymetry. This impact is shown to be modest: the mesoscale doesn't modify the chronology of the deep convective winter nor the volume of dense waters formed. It however impacts the location of the mixed patch by reducing its extent to the west of the North Balearic Front and by increasing it along the Northern Current, in better agreement with observations. The maximum mixed patch volume is significantly reduced from 5.7 ± 0.2 to 4.2 ± 0.6 1013m3. Finally, the spring restratification volume is more realistic and enhanced from 1.4 ± 0.2 to 1.8 ± 0.2 1013m3 by the mesoscale. We also address the mesoscale impact on the ocean intrinsic variability by performing perturbed initial state ensemble simulations. The mesoscale enhances the intrinsic variability of the deep convection geography, with most of the mixed patch area impacted by intrinsic variability. The DWF volume has a low intrinsic variability but it is increased by 2-3 times with the mesoscale. We relate it to a dramatic increase of the Gulf of Lions eddy kinetic energy from 5.0 ± 0.6 to 17.3 ± 1.5cm2/s2, in remarkable agreement with observations.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1002/2016JC012587

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