U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Isopycnal Eddy Mixing across the Kuroshio Extension: Stable Versus Unstable States in an Eddying Model
Published: May 24, 2017
Posted: January 26, 2018

Mixing across the Kuroshio Extension.

The Science
Ocean eddy cross-stream mixing estimates on constant density surfaces in the highly energetic eastward flowing mid-latitude North Pacific Kuroshio Extension (KE) were obtained from a largely eddy-resolving ocean general circulation model. These estimates were obtained over a four-year period during which the KE jet transitioned between a strong elongated state and a weak contracted state. The study documents the temporal and spatial eddy-mixing variability in and outside of the KE jet during this cycle; no study to date has documented eddy mixing over a complete energetics cycle of the KE jet.

The Impact
The Kuroshio Extension (KE) jet creates a strong front between the North Pacific subtropical and subpolar gyres and is known to fluctuate between energetic states on interannual/decadal time scales. Eddy mixing contributes greatly to the cross-frontal exchange of properties (e.g., heat, salt, carbon) that, in turn, impact the water mass compositions of the two gyres. The location of elevated cross-jet eddy mixing varies in the KE jet during the two states and likely plays a role in the variability of the amounts of central and subtropical mode water that form to the south of the KE front. These mode waters are responsible for the uptake of heat and salt by the ocean during winter and re-emerge in subsequent winters to impact North Pacific climate.

Summary
The Kuroshio Extension (KE) is the eastward extension of the northward-flowing western boundary current of the North Pacific. It is intense in magnitude and is characterized by strong meanders and pinched-off mesoscale (~10-100 km) vortices. The cross-jet mixing in the KE displayed notable temporal variability over a 4-year period during which the jet transitioned from its elongated strong (stable) state to its contracted weak (unstable) state. In the upper ocean, enhanced cross-jet mixing within the jet was concentrated in the downstream sector of the jet, where the jet was weak but eddy activity was strong. Elevated cross-jet mixing was found to the east of 150°E in the stable state and to the west of 150°E in the unstable state, consistent with the elongated (contracted) nature of the jet during its stable (unstable) state. However, average mixing within the KE jet was indistinguishable in the typical stable and unstable states. In the deep ocean, mixing is strongly influenced by topography, and thus horizontal mixing there has less interannual variability than in the upper ocean.

Contacts (BER PM)
Dorothy Koch
Earth System Modeling Program
Dorothy.Koch@science.doe.gov

Renu Joseph
Regional & Global Climate Modeling
Renu.Joseph@science.doe.gov

(PI Contact)
Julie L. McClean
Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Funding
The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research supported this research as part of the Accelerated Climate Modeling for Energy (ACME), Ultra-High Resolution Global Climate Simulation, and Ocean and Sea Ice and their Interactions around Greenland and the West Antarctic Peninsula in Forced Fine-Resolution Global Simulations projects of the Earth System Modeling (ESM) and Regional & Global Climate Modeling (RGCM) programs.

Publication
Chen, R., Gille, S.T., and J.L. McClean. "Isopycnal eddy mixing across the Kuroshio Extension: Stable versus unstable states in an eddying model." 122(5), 4329-4345 (2017). [DOI:10.1002/2016JC012164]
(Reference link)

Related Links
BER Highlight: Isopycnal Eddy Mixing across the Kuroshio Extension: Stable versus unstable states in an eddying model

Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]

May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]

May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]

May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]

Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)