Estimating the Numerical Diapycnal Mixing in the GO5.0 Ocean Model

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Alex Megann and George Nurser, National Oceanography Center, Soton, Southampton, United Kingdom
Constant-depth (or "z-coordinate") ocean models such as MOM4 and NEMO have become the de facto workhorse in climate applications, and have attained a mature stage in their development and are well understood. A generic shortcoming of this model type, however, is a tendency for the advection scheme to produce unphysical numerical diapycnal mixing, which in some cases may exceed the explicitly parameterised mixing based on observed physical processes, and this is likely to have effects on the long-timescale evolution of the simulated climate system. Despite this, few quantitative estimations have been made of the magnitude of the effective diapycnal diffusivity due to numerical mixing in these models.

GO5.0 is the latest ocean model configuration developed jointly by the UK Met Office and the National Oceanography Centre (Megann et al, 2014), and forms part of the GC1 and GC2 climate models. It uses version 3.4 of the NEMO model, on the ORCA025 ¼° global tripolar grid. We describe various approaches to quantifying the numerical diapycnal mixing in this model, and present results from analysis of the GO5.0 model based on the isopycnal watermass analysis of Lee et al (2002) that indicate that numerical mixing does indeed form a significant component of the watermass transformation in the ocean interior.