The Impact of Eddy Advection and Diffusion on Passive Tracer Transport in a Global Ocean Model

Asher Riaz1, N L Bindoff2, Peter G Strutton1 and Simon Wotherspoon3, (1)Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, Australia, (2)Univ Tasmania, Hobart, Australia, (3)University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, Australia
Eddies have two distinct properties known as eddy advection (K_GM ) and eddy diffusion (K_iso). These are parameterized by Gent-McWilliams [1990] (K_GM ) and Redi [1982] (K_iso), respectively, in low to moderate resolution global ocean models. Both processes play an active part in the uptake of tracers such as CO_2 and CFCs. The advective role of eddies is associated with slumping of isopycnals, whereas the diffusive role is associated with the down-gradient diffusion [Lee et al., 2007]. In this work we investigate, for the first-time, which eddy process plays a dominant role in controlling tracer distribution in models. The model (pyOM2) used in this work is a coarse-resolution (2°x 2°) global ocean model [Eden et al., 2014]. We use a suite of nine different experiments, each with different K_GM and K_iso values. An idealised passive tracer is introduced at the surface of the ocean after the model is well equilibrated and it evolves for 100 years. We found on decadal time scales eddy diffusion and eddy advection both play equally important roles in controlling tracer distribution. However, on the time scale of hundred years or more eddy advection dominates over eddy diffusion. Small K_GM values set the isopycnal slopes to be steep, which allows the tracer to easily penetrate the deep ocean along isopycnals. On the contrary, large K_GM values flatten the isopycnals and therefore tracer only weakly penetrates the deep ocean. Near Antarctica, large values of K_iso exert strong control over the tracer distribution and brings tracer rich water to depth.