Controlling spurious diapycnal mixing in eddy-resolving height-coordinate ocean models – Insights from virtual deliberate tracer release experiments

Hill, Chris; Ferreira, David; Campin, Jean-Michel; Marshall, John; Abernathey, Ryan Patrick; Barrier, Nicolas

A perceived limitation of z-coordinate models associated with spurious diapycnal mixing in eddying, frontal flow, can be readily addressed through appropriate attention to the tracer advection schemes employed. It is demonstrated that tracer advection schemes developed by Prather and collaborators for application in the stratosphere, greatly improve the fidelity of eddying flows, reducing levels of spurious diapycnal mixing to below those directly measured in field experiments, ∼1 × 10⁻⁵ m² s⁻¹. This approach yields a model in which geostrophic eddies are quasi-adiabatic in the ocean interior, so that the residual-mean overturning circulation aligns almost perfectly with density contours. A reentrant channel configuration of the MIT General Circulation Model, that approximates the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, is used to examine these issues. Virtual analogs of ocean deliberate tracer release field experiments reinforce our conclusion, producing passive tracer solutions that parallel field experiments remarkably well.

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Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
Earth and Environmental Sciences
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March 25, 2016