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ArticleLarge-eddy simulation of the tidal-cycle variations of an estuarine boundary layer(American Geophysical Union, 2010-08-03) Li, Ming ; Radhakrishnan, Senthilkumaran ; Piomelli, Ugo ; Geyer, W. RockwellThe estuarine boundary layer affected by a horizontal density gradient exhibits temporal evolution over a tidal cycle, in a manner similar to the diurnal cycle of the ocean surface mixed layer. A large eddy simulation (LES) model is developed to investigate the physics controlling the growth of the boundary layer during the flood tide and restratification during the ebb tide. Turbulent kinetic energy, momentum and salt fluxes, bottom stress, and energy dissipation rates calculated from the LES model all show a strong flood-ebb asymmetry. Analysis of the turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) budget shows a primary balance between shear production and dissipation in the well-mixed boundary layer over the tidal cycle. However, TKE transport term is found to be important across the edge of the boundary layer during the flood tide so turbulent energy generated in the bottom boundary layer can be transferred to the stratified pycnocline region. Tidal straining leads to a small and weakly convective region inside the boundary layer during the flood tide but the strain-induced buoyancy flux does not make a significant contribution to the turbulence generation. Additional LES runs are conducted by switching off the baroclinic pressure gradient term in the momentum equation and the tidal straining term in the salinity equation to show that the baroclinic pressure gradient is the main mechanism responsible for generating the flood-ebb mixing asymmetry.
ArticleImpacts of oceanic mixed layer on hurricanes: a simulation experiment with Hurricane Sandy(American Geophysical Union, 2020-10-07) Li, Siqi ; Chen, Changsheng ; Wu, Zhongxiang ; Beardsley, Robert C. ; Li, MingInfluences of the ocean mixed layer (OML) dynamics on intensity, pathway, and landfall of October 2012 Hurricane Sandy were examined through an experiment using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. The WRF model was run for two cases with or without coupling to the OML. The OML in the WRF was calculated by an oceanic mixed layer submodel. The initial conditions of the depth and mean water temperature of the OML were specified using Global‐FVCOM and Global‐HYCOM fields. The comparison results between these two cases clearly show that including the OML dynamics enhanced the contribution of vertical mixing to the air‐sea heat flux. When the hurricane moved toward the coast, the local OML rapidly deepened with an increase of storm wind. Intense vertical mixing brought cold water in the deep ocean toward the surface to produce a cold wake underneath the storm, with the lowest sea temperature at the maximum wind zone. This process led to a significant latent heat loss from the ocean within the storm and hence rapid drops of the air temperature and vapor mixing ratio above the sea surface. As a result, the storm was intensified as the central sea level pressure dropped. Improving air pressure simulation with OML tended to reduce the storm size and strengthened the storm intensity and hence provided a better simulation of hurricane pathway and landfall.
ArticleGeneration of internal solitary waves by lateral circulation in a stratified estuary(American Meteorological Society, 2017-07-03) Xie, Xiaohui ; Li, Ming ; Scully, Malcolm E. ; Boicourt, William C.Internal solitary waves are commonly observed in the coastal ocean where they are known to contribute to mass transport and turbulent mixing. While these waves are often generated by cross-isobath barotropic tidal currents, novel observations are presented suggesting that internal solitary waves result from along-isobath tidal flows over channel-shoal bathymetry. Mooring and ship-based velocity, temperature, and salinity data were collected over a cross-channel section in a stratified estuary. The data show that Ekman forcing on along-channel tidal currents drives lateral circulation, which interacts with the stratified water over the deep channel to generate a supercritical mode-2 internal lee wave. This lee wave propagates onto the shallow shoal and evolves into a group of internal solitary waves of elevation due to nonlinear steepening. These observations highlight the potential importance of three-dimensionality on the conversion of tidal flow to internal waves in the rotating ocean.
ArticleChallenges associated with modeling low-oxygen waters in Chesapeake Bay : a multiple model comparison(Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union, 2016-04-06) Irby, Isaac D. ; Friedrichs, Marjorie A. M. ; Friedrichs, Carl T. ; Bever, Aaron J. ; Hood, Raleigh R. ; Lanerolle, Lyon W. J. ; Li, Ming ; Linker, Lewis ; Scully, Malcolm E. ; Sellner, Kevin G. ; Shen, Jian ; Testa, Jeremy M. ; Wang, Hao ; Wang, Ping ; Xia, MengAs three-dimensional (3-D) aquatic ecosystem models are used more frequently for operational water quality forecasts and ecological management decisions, it is important to understand the relative strengths and limitations of existing 3-D models of varying spatial resolution and biogeochemical complexity. To this end, 2-year simulations of the Chesapeake Bay from eight hydrodynamic-oxygen models have been statistically compared to each other and to historical monitoring data. Results show that although models have difficulty resolving the variables typically thought to be the main drivers of dissolved oxygen variability (stratification, nutrients, and chlorophyll), all eight models have significant skill in reproducing the mean and seasonal variability of dissolved oxygen. In addition, models with constant net respiration rates independent of nutrient supply and temperature reproduced observed dissolved oxygen concentrations about as well as much more complex, nutrient-dependent biogeochemical models. This finding has significant ramifications for short-term hypoxia forecasts in the Chesapeake Bay, which may be possible with very simple oxygen parameterizations, in contrast to the more complex full biogeochemical models required for scenario-based forecasting. However, models have difficulty simulating correct density and oxygen mixed layer depths, which are important ecologically in terms of habitat compression. Observations indicate a much stronger correlation between the depths of the top of the pycnocline and oxycline than between their maximum vertical gradients, highlighting the importance of the mixing depth in defining the region of aerobic habitat in the Chesapeake Bay when low-oxygen bottom waters are present. Improvement in hypoxia simulations will thus depend more on the ability of models to reproduce the correct mean and variability of the depth of the physically driven surface mixed layer than the precise magnitude of the vertical density gradient.
ArticleAsymmetric tidal mixing due to the horizontal density gradient(American Meteorological Society, 2008-02) Li, Ming ; Trowbridge, John H. ; Geyer, W. RockwellStratification and turbulent mixing exhibit a flood–ebb tidal asymmetry in estuaries and continental shelf regions affected by horizontal density gradients. The authors use a large-eddy simulation (LES) model to investigate the penetration of a tidally driven bottom boundary layer into stratified water in the presence of a horizontal density gradient. Turbulence in the bottom boundary layer is driven by bottom stress during flood tides, with low-gradient (Ri) and flux (Rf) Richardson numbers, but by localized shear during ebb tides, with Ri = ¼ and Rf = 0.2 in the upper half of the boundary layer. If the water column is unstratified initially, the LES model reproduces periodic stratification associated with tidal straining. The model results show that the energetics criterion based on the competition between tidal straining and tidal stirring provides a good prediction for the onset of periodic stratification, but the tidally averaged horizontal Richardson number Rix has a threshold value of about 0.2, which is lower than the 3 suggested in a recent study. Although the tidal straining leads to negative buoyancy flux on flood tides, the authors find that for typical values of the horizontal density gradient and tidal currents in estuaries and shelf regions, buoyancy production is much smaller than shear production in generating turbulent kinetic energy.