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A window on the deep ocean: The special value of ocean bottom pressure for monitoring the large-scale, deep-ocean circulation

A window on the deep ocean: The special value of ocean bottom pressure for monitoring the large-scale, deep-ocean circulation
A window on the deep ocean: The special value of ocean bottom pressure for monitoring the large-scale, deep-ocean circulation
We show how, by focusing on bottom pressure measurements particularly on the global continental slope, it is possible to avoid the “fog” of mesoscale variability which dominates most observables in the deep ocean. This makes it possible to monitor those aspects of the ocean circulation which are most important for global scale ocean variability and climate. We therefore argue that such measurements should be considered an important future component of the Global Ocean Observing System, to complement the present open-ocean and coastal elements. Our conclusions are founded on both theoretical arguments, and diagnostics from a fine-resolution ocean model that has realistic amplitudes and spectra of mesoscale variability. These show that boundary pressure variations are coherent over along-slope distances of tens of thousands of kilometres, for several vertical modes. We illustrate the value of this in the model Atlantic, by determining the time for boundary and equatorial waves to complete a circuit of the northern basin (115 and 205 days for the first and second vertical modes), showing how the boundary features compare with basin-scale theoretical models, and demonstrating the ability to monitor the meridional overturning circulation using these boundary measurements. Finally, we discuss applicability to the real ocean and make recommendations on how to make such measurements without contamination from instrumental drift.
0079-6611
19-46
Hughes, Chris W.
243911f3-a2c7-46de-bf78-7d53b19baca0
Williams, Joanne
7031b675-07d1-4ed3-b708-05642f3992f3
Blaker, Adam
94efe8b2-c744-4e90-87d7-db19ffa41200
Coward, Andrew
53b78140-2e65-476a-b287-e8384a65224b
Stepanov, Vladimir
fad7dae4-c785-428d-b7f2-8b3c30f11e13
Hughes, Chris W.
243911f3-a2c7-46de-bf78-7d53b19baca0
Williams, Joanne
7031b675-07d1-4ed3-b708-05642f3992f3
Blaker, Adam
94efe8b2-c744-4e90-87d7-db19ffa41200
Coward, Andrew
53b78140-2e65-476a-b287-e8384a65224b
Stepanov, Vladimir
fad7dae4-c785-428d-b7f2-8b3c30f11e13

Hughes, Chris W., Williams, Joanne, Blaker, Adam, Coward, Andrew and Stepanov, Vladimir (2018) A window on the deep ocean: The special value of ocean bottom pressure for monitoring the large-scale, deep-ocean circulation Progress in Oceanography, 161, pp. 19-46. (doi:10.1016/j.pocean.2018.01.011).

Record type: Article

Abstract

We show how, by focusing on bottom pressure measurements particularly on the global continental slope, it is possible to avoid the “fog” of mesoscale variability which dominates most observables in the deep ocean. This makes it possible to monitor those aspects of the ocean circulation which are most important for global scale ocean variability and climate. We therefore argue that such measurements should be considered an important future component of the Global Ocean Observing System, to complement the present open-ocean and coastal elements. Our conclusions are founded on both theoretical arguments, and diagnostics from a fine-resolution ocean model that has realistic amplitudes and spectra of mesoscale variability. These show that boundary pressure variations are coherent over along-slope distances of tens of thousands of kilometres, for several vertical modes. We illustrate the value of this in the model Atlantic, by determining the time for boundary and equatorial waves to complete a circuit of the northern basin (115 and 205 days for the first and second vertical modes), showing how the boundary features compare with basin-scale theoretical models, and demonstrating the ability to monitor the meridional overturning circulation using these boundary measurements. Finally, we discuss applicability to the real ocean and make recommendations on how to make such measurements without contamination from instrumental drift.

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Published date: 1 February 2018

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Local EPrints ID: 417440
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/417440
ISSN: 0079-6611
PURE UUID: df387569-463e-4c1b-ba03-6ab07f7ab7b1

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Date deposited: 31 Jan 2018 17:30
Last modified: 31 Jan 2018 17:30

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Contributors

Author: Chris W. Hughes
Author: Joanne Williams
Author: Adam Blaker
Author: Andrew Coward
Author: Vladimir Stepanov

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