Studying ocean circulation with simple forcing
Professor - Meteorologi og oseanografi, UiO
The large scale ocean circulation is most frequently modelled
using full complexity numerical models, with wind, thermal and haline
(salt) forcing. With such forcing it can be difficult to deduce what the main
driving mechanisms are. We consider the simpler case in which the ocean
is driven purely by heating and cooling at the surface. We first examine
the case of a square ocean and compare with predictions from a
theoretical model. Then we examine the response with realistic bathymetry.
This exhibits many realistic features, such as an appropriate overturning
circulation which is intensified in the Atlantic. The advantage is that, lacking
wind forcing, it is much easier to dissect the inter-basin exchange. The
approach lends itself well to paleoclimatic studies, when the wind was
unknown but solar radiation was.