Global estimates of the energy transfer from the wind to the ocean, with emphasis on near-inertial oscillations

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Flexas, M. Mar
Thompson, Andrew F.
Torres, Hector S.
Klein, Patrice
Farrar, J. Thomas
Zhang, Hong
Menemenlis, Dimitris
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Surface fluxes
Inertial oscillations
Wind power
Kinetic energy budget
Global ocean model
Estimates of the kinetic energy transfer from the wind to the ocean are often limited by the spatial and temporal resolution of surface currents and surface winds. Here we examine the wind work in a pair of global, very high‐resolution (1/48° and 1/24°) MIT general circulation model simulations in Latitude‐Longitude‐polar Cap (LLC) configuration that provide hourly output at spatial resolutions of a few kilometers and include tidal forcing. A cospectrum analysis of wind stress and ocean surface currents shows positive contribution at large scales (>300 km) and near‐inertial frequency and negative contribution from mesoscales, tidal frequencies, and internal gravity waves. Larger surface kinetic energy fluxes are in the Kuroshio in winter at large scales (40 mW/m2) and mesoscales (−30 mW/m2). The Kerguelen region is dominated by large scale (∼20 mW/m2), followed by inertial oscillations in summer (13 mW/m2) and mesoscale in winter (−12 mW/m2). Kinetic energy fluxes from internal gravity waves (−0.1 to −9.9 mW/m2) are generally stronger in summer. Surface kinetic energy fluxes in the LLC simulations are 4.71 TW, which is 25–85% higher than previous global estimates from coarser (1/6–1/10°) general ocean circulation models; this is likely due to improved representation of wind variability (6‐hourly, 0.14°, operational European Center for Medium‐Range Weather Forecasts). However, the low wind power input to the near‐inertial frequency band obtained with LLC (0.16 TW) compared to global slab models suggests that wind variability on time scales less than 6 hr and spatial scales less than 15 km are critical to better representing the wind power input in ocean circulation models.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2019. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans 124(8), (2019): 5723-5746, doi:10.1029/2018JC014453.
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Flexas, M. M., Thompson, A. F., Torres, H. S., Klein, P., Farrar, J. T., Zhang, H., & Menemenlis, D. (2019). Global estimates of the energy transfer from the wind to the ocean, with emphasis on near-inertial oscillations. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, 124(8), 5723-5746.
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