A mechanism of mixed layer formation in the indo-Western Pacific Southern Ocean: Preconditioning by an eddy-driven jet-scale overturning circulation

Qian Li, Sukyoung Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

The formation of a narrow band of the deep wintermixed layer (hereinafter ''mixed layer wedge'') in the Indo- western Pacific Southern Ocean is examined using an eddy-resolving Parallel Ocean Program (POP) model simulation. The mixed layer wedge starts to deepen in June, centered at 47.5°S, with a meridional scale of only ~2° latitude. Its center is located ~1° north of the model's Subantarctic Front (SAF). The Argo-based observed mixed layer is similarly narrow and occurs adjacent to the observed SAF. In the small sector of 130°-142°E, where the SAF is persistent and the mixed layer is deepest, the formation of the narrow mixed layer wedge coincides with destratification underneath the mixed layer. This destratification can be attributed primarily to the downwelling branch of a jet-scale overturning circulation (JSOC). The JSOC, which was reported in an earlier study by the authors, is driven by eddy momentum flux convergence and is therefore thermally indirect: its descending branch occurs on the warmer equatorward flank of the SAF, promoting destratification during the warm season. The model-generated net air-sea heat flux reveals a similar wedge-like feature, indicating that the flux contributes to the mixed layer depth wedge, but again this feature is preconditioned by the JSOC. Ekman advection contributes to the formation of themixed layer, but it occurs farther north of the regionwhere themixed layer initially deepens. These findings suggest that the eddy-driven JSOC associated with the SAF plays an important role in initiating the narrow, deep mixed layer wedge that forms north of the SAF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2755-2772
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Volume47
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography

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