|Description||The oceanic response to overflows is explored using a two-layer isopycnal model.
Overflows are a major source of the dense water of the global deep ocean, originating
from only a few marginal seas. They enter the open ocean as dense gravity currents
down a continental slope and play a crucial role in the deep ocean circulation. To
understand the dynamics of these overflows, previous studies simplified their dynamics
by treating the overlying ocean as inactive. This simplification may be a first
approximation for the overflow but not for the overlying ocean. The Mediterranean
overflow, for example, entrains about 2 Sv of overlying Atlantic water when it enters
the Atlantic through Gibraltar Strait. The upper ocean must balance the mass
loss and vortex stretching associated with entrainment. Thus for the upper ocean,
overflows represent a localized region of intense mass and PV forcing.
The simulations in this study show that in the upper layer, entrainment forces
a cyclonic circulation along bathymetric contours. This is a topographic β-plume
and its transport depends on the entrainment region size and the topographic slope.
Baroclinic instability also develops and creates eddy thickness flux to the in-shore
direction, forcing a double gyre topographic β-plume near the strait due to eddy PV
flux convergence on the in-shore side of the continental slope and divergence on the offshore
side. When the upper oceanic response to overflows is examined specifically for
the Mediterranean overflow, the upper ocean is found to establish two trans-Atlantic
zonal jets, analogous to the Azores current and the Azores Counter current. These
two zonal jets are an extension of the topographic β-plume driven by the overflow.
Because the eddies in the steep slope region near Cape St. Vincent drive a mean flow
across the slope, the topographic β-plume connects to the Atlantic Ocean to become
a basin scale flow.
This thesis shows that overflows can induce a significant circulation in the upper
ocean, and for the Mediterranean overflow, this circulation is a basin scale flow.||en