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A regional thermohaline inverse method for estimating circulation and mixing in the Arctic and subpolar North Atlantic

Mackay, Neill; Wilson, Chris; Zika, Jan; Holliday, N. Penny. 2018 A regional thermohaline inverse method for estimating circulation and mixing in the Arctic and subpolar North Atlantic. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 35 (12). 2383-2403. https://doi.org/10.1175/JTECH-D-17-0198.1

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Abstract/Summary

A Regional Thermohaline Inverse Method (RTHIM) is presented that estimates velocities through the section bounding an enclosed domain and transformation rates due to interior mixing within the domain, given inputs of surface boundary fluxes of heat and salt and interior distributions of salinity and temperature. The method works by invoking a volumetric balance in thermohaline coordinates between the transformation due to mixing, surface fluxes and advection, while constraining the mixing to be down tracer gradients. The method is validated using a 20-year mean of outputs from the NEMO model in an Arctic and subpolar North Atlantic domain, bound to the south by a section with a mean latitude of 66°N. RTHIM solutions agree well with the NEMO model ‘truth’ and are robust to a range of parameters; the MOC, heat and freshwater transports calculated from an ensemble of RTHIM solutions are within 12%, 10% and 19%, respectively, of the NEMO values. There is also bulk agreement between RTHIM solution transformation rates due to mixing and those diagnosed from NEMO. Localized differences in diagnosed mixing may be used to guide the development of mixing parameterizations in models such as NEMO, whose downgradient diffusive closures with prescribed diffusivity may be considered oversimplified and too restrictive.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1175/JTECH-D-17-0198.1
ISSN: 0739-0572
Date made live: 08 May 2018 09:40 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/519980

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