JCJC SIMI 5-6 - JCJC - SIMI 5-6 - Environnement, Terre et Espace

Submesoscale ocean MOdeling for Climate – SMOC

Submission summary

Submesoscale turbulence has recently attracted much attention. In the upper ocean it essentially consists of a myriad of fronts that reside in the vicinity of mesoscale eddies and in regions characterized by intense air-sea fluxes. The role played by submesoscale turbulence (i.e. with scales smaller than the deformation radius, typically 30 km at mid-latitude) in the ocean functioning is still poorly known but there are a few credible indications that it is a key link between balanced dynamics and unbalanced turbulence en route to dissipation. This link needs to be further investigated, in particular, from the standpoint of parameterizing mesoscale/submesoscale (MSS) processes in low-resolution (eddy-permitting at best) climate model. The ability of MSS turbulence to trigger diapycnal mixing is key in this quest.

The aim of this proposal is to define and organize the transition of the submesoscale research carried out at Laboratoire de Physique des Océans since 2005 from a process-oriented approach using primarily a very idealized ACC-type configuration (necessary so far to uncover the underlying dynamics) to a climate-oriented approach. The coordinator for this proposal has been involved all along the first research stage and is taking leadership. The purpose of the transition is, by quantifying the upscaling effects of MSS on the larger scale circulation, to engage in the construction of adapted parameterizations for MSS processes, to be included in the next generations of climate models.

The proposed transition involves i) modifying the standard setup used since 2005 (very idealized ACC-type configuration; 15 publications + 3 submitted with this configuration) to include important realism elements (topography and improved forcing procedure) and move to a Southern Ocean-like configuration ii) comparing our reference solutions with those from an OGCM (NEMO) that will become our standard for eddy-resolving (and less) simulations iii) focus on statistical quantities directly relevant for the climate community such as MSS-induced diapycnal fluxes (or proxies for them). This will necessitate longer integration times (tens of years typically) that are compatible with the constant improvement of computer ressources iv) take advantage of this process-oriented research to design and evaluate parameterizations intended for large-scale ocean and climate models.

Beyond the specifics of the research plan the proposal was conceived to optimize the chances of accomplishing cross-field breakthrough in ocean modeling useful to our societies. This concern reflects in the composition of the team (3 MSS experts with some experience in larger scale modeling joined by one researcher from the GCM community with outstanding experience in subgrid-scale process parameterization). Also, the requested budget will mainly serve to hire a postdoc whose research (on iii) and iv) primarily) is intended to straddle the “submesoscale turbulence” and basin-scale circulation realms.

Project coordinator

Monsieur Xavier Capet (CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE - DELEGATION REGIONAL PARIS B) – xclod@locean-ipsl.upmc.fr

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

LPO CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE - DELEGATION REGIONALE BRETAGNE ET PAYS- DE-LA-LOIRE
L OCEAN CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE - DELEGATION REGIONAL PARIS B

Help of the ANR 132,000 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2011 - 36 Months

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