Wind-forced seasonal exchange between marginal seas and the open ocean

Michael A. Spall (WHOI, Woods Hole)

Apr 26. 2023, 15:15 — 16:00

The circulation within marginal seas subject to periodic winds, and their exchange with the open ocean, are explored using idealized numerical models and theory. This is motivated by the strong seasonal cycle in winds over the Nordic Seas and the exchange with the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean through the Denmark Strait and Faroe Bank Channel. Two distinct regimes are identified: an interior with closed f/h contours and a shallow shelf region that connects to the open ocean. The interior develops a strong oscillating along-topography circulation with weaker ageostrophic radial flows. The relative importance of the bottom Ekman layer and interior ageostrophic flows depends only on ωh/Cd, where ω is the forcing frequency, h is the bottom depth, and Cd is a linear bottom drag coefficient. The dynamics on the shelf are controlled by the frictional decay of coastal waves over an along-shelf scale Ly = f0LsHs/Cd, where f0 is the Coriolis parameter, and Ls and Hs are the shelf width and depth. For Ly much less than the perimeter of the basin, the surface Ekman transport is provided primarily by overturning within the marginal sea and there is little exchange with the open ocean. For Ly on the order of the basin perimeter or larger, most of the Ekman transport is provided from outside the marginal sea with an opposite exchange through the deep part of the strait. This demonstrates a direct connection between the dynamics of coastal waves on the shelf and the exchange of deep waters through the strait, some of which is derived from below sill depth.

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Further Information
ESI Boltzmann Lecture Hall
Associated Event:
The Dynamics of Planetary-scale Fluid Flows (Thematic Programme)
Adrian Constantin (U of Vienna)
David Dritschel (U of St Andrews)
Nathan Paldor (HU of Jerusalem)