Sensitivity of the Ocean State to the Vertical Distribution of Internal-Tide-Driven Mixing
Journal of Physical Oceanography
The ocean interior stratification and meridional overturning circulation are largely sustained by diapycnal mixing. The breaking of internal tides is a major source of diapycnal mixing. Many recent climate models parameterize internal-tide breaking using the scheme of St. Laurent et al. While this parameterization dynamically accounts for internal-tide generation, the vertical distribution of the resultant mixing is ad hoc, prescribing energy dissipation to decay exponentially above the ocean
... y above the ocean bottom with a fixed-length scale. Recently, Polzin formulated a dynamically based parameterization, in which the vertical profile of dissipation decays algebraically with a varying decay scale, accounting for variable stratification using Wentzel-Kramers-Brillouin (WKB) stretching. This study compares two simulations using the St. Laurent and Polzin formulations in the Climate Model, version 2G (CM2G), ocean-ice-atmosphere coupled model, with the same formulation for internal-tide energy input. Focusing mainly on the Pacific Ocean, where the deep low-frequency variability is relatively small, the authors show that the ocean state shows modest but robust and significant sensitivity to the vertical profile of internal-tide-driven mixing. Therefore, not only the energy input to the internal tides matters, but also where in the vertical it is dissipated.