Low-frequency variability in shallow-water models of the wind-driven ocean circulation. Part II: Time-dependent solutions


Simonnet, Eric, Michael Ghil, Kayo Ide, Roger Temam, and Shouhong Wang. “Low-frequency variability in shallow-water models of the wind-driven ocean circulation. Part II: Time-dependent solutions.” Journal of Physical Oceanography 33, no. 4 (2003).
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The time-dependent wind-driven ocean circulation is investigated for both a rectangular and a North Atlantic– shaped basin. Multiple steady states in a 2 ½ -layer shallow-water model and their dependence on various pa- rameters and other model properties were studied in Part I for the rectangular basin. As the wind stress on the rectangular basin is increased, each steady-state branch is destabilized by a Hopf bifurcation. The periodic solutions that arise off the subpolar branch have a robust subannual periodicity of 4–5 months. For the subtropical branch, the period varies between sub- and interannual, depending on the inverse Froude number F 2 defined with respect to the lower active layer’s thickness H 2 . As F 2 is lowered, the perturbed-symmetric branch is destabilized baroclinically, before the perturbed pitchfork bifurcation examined in detail in Part I occurs. Transition to aperiodic behavior arises at first by a homoclinic explosion off the isolated branch that exists only for sufficiently high wind stress. Subsequent global and local bifurcations all involve the subpolar branch, which alone exists in the limit of vanishing wind stress. Purely subpolar solutions vary on an interannual scale, whereas combined subpolar and subtropical solutions exhibit complex transitions affected by a second, subpolar homoclinic orbit. In the latter case, the timescale of the variability is interdecadal. The role of the global bifurcations in the interdecadal variability is investigated. Numerical simulations were carried out for the North Atlantic with earth topography- 5 minute (ETOPO-5) coastline geometry in the presence of realistic, as well as idealized, wind stress forcing. The simulations exhibit a realistic Gulf Stream at 20-km resolution and with realistic wind stress. The variability at 12-km resolution exhibits spectral peaks at 6 months, 16 months, and 6–7 years. The subannual mode is strongest in the subtropical gyre; the interannual modes are both strongest in the subpolar gyre.

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