How relevant are Tidal Effects on Past Ocean Circulation?

Monday, 15 December 2014
Tobias Weber, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ, Potsdam, Germany and Maik Thomas, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
Global ocean models can generally be divided into Ocean General Circulation and tidal models. Paleoclimate simulations consider dynamics due to the ocean’s general, i.e., thermohaline, wind and pressure driven circulation, while tidal dynamics most commonly are neglected due to their strict periodicity and high frequencies. Nevertheless, residual tidal currents have the potential to alter the ocean's mean circulation and therefore climate relevant dynamics.

Using the coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model ECHAM5/MPIOM with an integrated tidal module based on luni-solar ephemerides, we simultaneously model circulation and tidal dynamics for the Early Eocene (50Ma). The additional tidal forcing changes the ocean's mean circulation, in particular below 1000m depth compared to an Early Eocene control run without tides. Maximum velocities of the order of 1cm/s are obtained in the control run in the intermediate and deep ocean, while by a factor of 2 stronger mean currents are obtained when tidal dynamics are considered. A stronger ocean circulation leads to modified temperature transports and thus altered energy exchange at the atmosphere-ocean boundary. This affects winds and thereby energy transports in the atmosphere. As a result, near surface temperatures are locally altered by more than 1°C.