Ocean & coupled ocean

Kondrashov D, Chekroun MD, Berloff P. Multiscale Stuart-Landau Emulators: Application to Wind-Driven Ocean Gyres. Fluids [Internet]. 2018;3 (1) :21. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The multiscale variability of the ocean circulation due to its nonlinear dynamics remains a big challenge for theoretical understanding and practical ocean modeling. This paper demonstrates how the data-adaptive harmonic (DAH) decomposition and inverse stochastic modeling techniques introduced in (Chekroun and Kondrashov, (2017), Chaos, 27), allow for reproducing with high fidelity the main statistical properties of multiscale variability in a coarse-grained eddy-resolving ocean flow. This fully-data-driven approach relies on extraction of frequency-ranked time-dependent coefficients describing the evolution of spatio-temporal DAH modes (DAHMs) in the oceanic flow data. In turn, the time series of these coefficients are efficiently modeled by a family of low-order stochastic differential equations (SDEs) stacked per frequency, involving a fixed set of predictor functions and a small number of model coefficients. These SDEs take the form of stochastic oscillators, identified as multilayer Stuart–Landau models (MSLMs), and their use is justified by relying on the theory of Ruelle–Pollicott resonances. The good modeling skills shown by the resulting DAH-MSLM emulators demonstrates the feasibility of using a network of stochastic oscillators for the modeling of geophysical turbulence. In a certain sense, the original quasiperiodic Landau view of turbulence, with the amendment of the inclusion of stochasticity, may be well suited to describe turbulence. 

Groth A, Feliks Y, Kondrashov D, Ghil M. Interannual variability in the North Atlantic ocean’s temperature field and its association with the wind stress forcing. Journal of Climate. 2017;30 (7) :2655-2678.Abstract

Spectral analyses of the North Atlantic temperature field in the Simple Ocean Data Analysis (SODA) reanalysis identify prominent and statistically significant interannual oscillations along the Gulf Stream front and in large regions of the North Atlantic. A 7–8-yr oscillatory mode is characterized by a basin-wide southwest-to-northeast–oriented propagation pattern in the sea surface temperature (SST) field. This pattern is found to be linked to a seesaw in the meridional-dipole structure of the zonal wind stress forcing (TAUX). In the subpolar gyre, the SST and TAUX fields of this mode are shown to be in phase opposition, which suggests a cooling effect of the wind stress on the upper ocean layer. Over all, this mode’s temperature field is characterized by a strong equivalent-barotropic component, as shown by covariations in SSTs and sea surface heights, and by phase-coherent behavior of temperature layers at depth with the SST field. Recent improvements of multivariate singular spectrum analysis (M-SSA) help separate spatio-temporal patterns. This methodology is developed further and applied to studying the ocean’s response to variability in the atmospheric forcing. Statistical evidence is shown to exist for other mechanisms generating oceanic variability of similar 7–8-yr periodicity in the Gulf Stream region; the latter variability is likewise characterized by a strongly equivalent-barotropic component. Two other modes of biennial variability in the Gulf Stream region are also identified, and it is shown that interannual variability in this region cannot be explained by the ocean’s response to similar variability in the atmospheric forcing alone.

Groth A. Interannual Variability in the North Atlantic Ocean’s Temperature Field and its association with the Wind-Stress Forcing. AGU Fall Meeting 2016. 2016.Abstract

Spectral analyses of the North Atlantic temperature field in the Simple Ocean Data Analysis (SODA) reanalysis identify prominent and statistically significant interannual oscillations along the Gulf Stream front and in large regions of the North Atlantic. A 7--8-yr oscillatory mode is characterized by a basin-wide southwest-to-northeast--oriented propagation pattern in the sea-surface temperature (SST) field. This pattern is found to be linked to a seesaw in the meridional-dipole structure of the zonal wind-stress forcing (TAUX). In the subpolar gyre, the SST and TAUX fields of this mode are shown to be in phase opposition, which suggests a cooling effect of the wind stress on the upper ocean layer. Over all, this mode's temperature field is characterized by a strong equivalent-barotropic component, as shown by covariations in SST and sea-surface height (SSH), and by phase-coherent behavior of temperature layers at depth with the SST field. On the other hand, this mode shares many features of the gyre mode and raises the possibilty for the existence of an intrinsic oceanic mode of similar 7--8-yr period in the Gulf Stream region.

Ghil M. The wind-driven ocean circulation: Applying dynamical systems theory to a climate problem. Discrete and Continuous Dynamical Systems - A. 2017;37 (1) :189-228.Abstract

The large-scale, near-surface flow of the mid-latitude oceans is dominated by the presence of a larger, anticyclonic and a smaller, cyclonic gyre. The two gyres share the eastward extension of western boundary currents, such as the Gulf Stream or Kuroshio, and are induced by the shear in the winds that cross the respective ocean basins. This physical phenomenology is described mathematically by a hierarchy of systems of nonlinear partial differential equations (PDEs). We study the low-frequency variability of this wind-driven, double-gyre circulation in mid-latitude ocean basins, subject to time-constant, purely periodic and more general forms of time-dependent wind stress. Both analytical and numerical methods of dynamical systems theory are applied to the PDE systems of interest. Recent work has focused on the application of non-autonomous and random forcing to double-gyre models. We discuss the associated pullback and random attractors and the non-uniqueness of the invariant measures that are obtained. The presentation moves from observations of the geophysical phenomena to modeling them and on to a proper mathematical understanding of the models thus obtained. Connections are made with the highly topical issues of climate change and climate sensitivity.

Feliks Y, Robertson AW, Ghil M. Interannual Variability in North Atlantic Weather: Data Analysis and a Quasigeostrophic Model. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. 2016;73 (8) :3227-3248.Abstract

This paper addresses the effect of interannual variability in jet stream orientation on weather systems over the North Atlantic basin (NAB). The observational analysis relies on 65 yr of NCEP–NCAR reanalysis (1948–2012). The total daily kinetic energy of the geostrophic wind (GTKE) is taken as a measure of storm activity over the North Atlantic. The NAB is partitioned into four rectangular regions, and the winter average of GTKE is calculated for each quadrant. The spatial GTKE average over all four quadrants shows striking year-to-year variability and is strongly correlated with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).The GTKE strength in the northeast quadrant is closely related to the diffluence angle of the jet stream in the northwest quadrant. To gain insight into the relationship between the diffluence angle and its downstream impact, a quasigeostrophic baroclinic model is used. The results show that an initially zonal jet persists at its initial latitude over 30 days or longer, while a tilted jet propagates meridionally according to the Rossby wave group velocity, unless kept stationary by external forcing.A Gulf Stream–like narrow sea surface temperature (SST) front provides the requisite forcing for an analytical steady-state solution to this problem. This SST front influences the atmospheric jet in the northwest quadrant: it both strengthens the jet and tilts it northward at higher levels, while its effect is opposite at lower levels. Reanalysis data confirm these effects, which are consistent with thermal wind balance. The results suggest that the interannual variability found in the GTKE may be caused by intrinsic variability of the thermal Gulf Stream front.

Speich S, Dijkstra H, Ghil M. Successive bifurcations in a shallow-water model applied to the wind-driven ocean circulation. Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics. 1995;2 :241–268.Abstract
Climate - the "coarse-gridded" state of the coupled ocean - atmosphere system - varies on many time and space scales. The challenge is to relate such variation to specific mechanisms and to produce verifiable quantitative explanations. In this paper, we study the oceanic component of the climate system and, in particular, the different circulation regimes of the mid-latitude win driven ocean on the interannual time scale. These circulations are dominated by two counterrotating, basis scale gyres: subtropical and subpolar. Numerical techniques of bifurcation theory are used to stud the multiplicity and stability of the steady-state solution of a wind-driven, double-gyre, reduced-gravity, shallow water model. Branches of stationary solutions and their linear stability are calculated systematically as parameter are varied. This is one of the first geophysical studies i which such techniques are applied to a dynamical system with tens of thousands of degrees of freedom. Multiple stationary solutions obtain as a result of nonlinear interactions between the two main recirculating cell (cyclonic and anticyclonic) of the large- scale double-gyre flow. These equilibria appear for realistic values of the forcing and dissipation parameters. They undergo Hop bifurcation and transition to aperiodic solutions eventually occurs. The periodic and chaotic behaviour is probably related to an increased number of vorticity cells interaction with each other. A preliminary comparison with observations of the Gulf Stream and Kuroshio Extensions suggests that the intern variability of our simulated mid-latitude ocean is a important factor in the observed interannual variability o these two current systems.
Jiang S, Jin F-fei, Ghil M. Multiple Equilibria, Periodic, and Aperiodic Solutions in a Wind-Driven, Double-Gyre, Shallow-Water Model. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 1995;25 (5) :764–786.Abstract
A reduced-gravity shallow-water (SW) model is used to study the nonlinear behavior of western boundary currents (WBCs), with particular emphasis on multiple equilibria and low-frequency variations. When the meridionally symmetric wind stress is sufficiently strong, two steady solutions–nearly antisymmetric about the x axis–are achieved from different initial states. These results imply that 1) the inertial WBCs could overshoot either southward or northward along the western boundary, depending on their initial states; and thus, 2) the WBC separation and eastward jet could occur either north or south of the maximum wind stress line. The two equilibria arise via a perturbed pitchfork bifurcation, as the wind stress increases. A low-order, double-gyre, quasigeostrophic (QG) model is studied analytically to provide further insight into the physical nature of this bifurcation. In this model, the basic state is exactly antisymmetric when the wind stress is symmetric. The perturbations destroying the symmetry of the pitchfork bifurcation can arise, therefore. in the QG model only from the asymmetric components of the wind stress. In the SW model, the antisymmetry of the system's basic response to the symmetric forcing is destroyed already at arbitrarily low wind stress. The pitchfork bifurcation from this basic state to more complex states at high wind stress is accordingly perturbed in the absence of any forcing asymmetry. Periodic solutions arise by Hopf bifurcation from either steady-state branch of the SW model. A purely periodic solution is studied in detail. The subtropical and subpolar recirculations, separation, and eastward jet exhibit a perfectly periodic oscillation with a period of about 2.8 years. Outside the recirculation zones, the solutions are nearly steady. The alternating anomalies of the upper-layer thickness are periodically generated adjacent to the ridge of the first and strongest downstream meander and are then propagated and advected into the two WBC zones, by Rossby waves and the recirculating currents, respectively. These anomalies periodically change the pressure gradient field near the WBCs and maintain the periodic oscillation. Aperiodic solutions are also studied by either increasing wind forcing or decreasing the viscosity.
Feliks Y, Ghil M, Simonnet E. Low-frequency variability in the midlatitude atmosphere induced by an oceanic thermal front. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. 2004;61 (9) :961–981.Abstract
This study examines the flow induced in a highly idealized atmospheric model by an east–west-oriented oceanic thermal front. The model has a linear marine boundary layer coupled to a quasigeostrophic, equivalent- barotropic free atmosphere. The vertical velocity at the top of the boundary layer drives the flow in the free atmosphere and produces an eastward jet, parallel to the oceanic front's isotherms. A large gyre develops on either side of this jet, cyclonic to the north and anticyclonic to the south of it. As the jet intensifies during spinup from rest, it becomes unstable. The most unstable wave has a length of about 500 km, it evolves into a meander, and eddies detach from the eastern edge of each gyre. The dependence of the atmospheric dynamics on the strength T of the oceanic front is studied. The Gulf Stream and Kuroshio fronts correspond roughly, in the scaling used here, to T 7°C. For weak fronts, T < 4°C, the circulation is steady and exhibits two large, antisymmetric gyres separated by a westerly zonal jet. As the front strengthens, 4 < T < 5, the solution undergoes Hopf bifurcation to become periodic in time, with a period of 30 days, and spatially asymmetric. The bifurcation is due to the westerly jet's barotropic instability, which has a symmetric spatial pattern. The addition of this pattern to the antisymmetric mean results in the overall asymmetry of the full solution. The spatial scale and amplitude of the symmetric, internally generated, and antisymmetric, forced mode increase with the strength T of the oceanic front. For T > 5°C, the solution becomes chaotic, but a dominant period still stands out above the broadband noise. This dominant period increases with T overall, but the increase is not monotonic. The oceanic front's intensity dictates the mean speed of the atmospheric jet. Two energy regimes are obtained. 1) In the low-energy regime, the SST front, and hence the atmospheric jet, are weak; in this regime, small meanders develop along the jet axis, and the dominant period is about 25 days. 2) In the high-energy regime, the SST front and the jet are strong; in it, large meanders and eddies develop along the jet, and the dominant oscillation has a period of about 70 days. The physical nature of the two types of oscillations is discussed, as are possible transitions between them when T changes on very long time scales. The results are placed in the context of previous theories of ocean front effects on atmospheric flows, in which baroclinic phenomena are dominant.
Vannitsem S, Demaeyer J, De Cruz L, Ghil M. Low-frequency variability and heat transport in a low-order nonlinear coupled ocean–atmosphere model. Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena. 2015;309 :71–85.Abstract
We formulate and study a low-order nonlinear coupled ocean–atmosphere model with an emphasis on the impact of radiative and heat fluxes and of the frictional coupling between the two components. This model version extends a previous 24-variable version by adding a dynamical equation for the passive advection of temperature in the ocean, together with an energy balance model. The bifurcation analysis and the numerical integration of the model reveal the presence of low-frequency variability (LFV) concentrated on and near a long-periodic, attracting orbit. This orbit combines atmospheric and oceanic modes, and it arises for large values of the meridional gradient of radiative input and of frictional coupling. Chaotic behavior develops around this orbit as it loses its stability; this behavior is still dominated by the LFV on decadal and multi-decadal time scales that is typical of oceanic processes. Atmospheric diagnostics also reveals the presence of predominant low- and high-pressure zones, as well as of a subtropical jet; these features recall realistic climatological properties of the oceanic atmosphere. Finally, a predictability analysis is performed. Once the decadal-scale periodic orbits develop, the coupled system’s short-term instabilities–as measured by its Lyapunov exponents–are drastically reduced, indicating the ocean’s stabilizing role on the atmospheric dynamics. On decadal time scales, the recurrence of the solution in a certain region of the invariant subspace associated with slow modes displays some extended predictability, as reflected by the oscillatory behavior of the error for the atmospheric variables at long lead times.
Pierini S, Ghil M, Chekroun MD. Exploring the pullback attractors of a low-order quasigeostrophic ocean model: The deterministic case. Journal of Climate. 2016;29 (11) :4185-4202.Abstract

A low-order quasigeostrophic double-gyre ocean model is subjected to an aperiodic forcing that mimics time dependence dominated by interdecadal variability. This model is used as a prototype of an unstable and nonlinear dynamical system with time-dependent forcing to explore basic features of climate change in the presence of natural variability. The study relies on the theoretical framework of nonautonomous dynamical systems and of their pullback attractors (PBAs), that is, of the time-dependent invariant sets attracting all trajectories initialized in the remote past. The existence of a global PBA is rigorously demonstrated for this weakly dissipative nonlinear model. Ensemble simulations are carried out and the convergence to PBAs is assessed by computing the probability density function (PDF) of localization of the trajectories. A sensitivity analysis with respect to forcing amplitude shows that the PBAs experience large modifications if the underlying autonomous system is dominated by small-amplitude limit cycles, while less dramatic changes occur in a regime characterized by large-amplitude relaxation oscillations. The dependence of the attracting sets on the choice of the ensemble of initial states is then analyzed. Two types of basins of attraction coexist for certain parameter ranges; they contain chaotic and nonchaotic trajectories, respectively. The statistics of the former does not depend on the initial states whereas the trajectories in the latter converge to small portions of the global PBA. This complex scenario requires separate PDFs for chaotic and nonchaotic trajectories. General implications for climate predictability are finally discussed.

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