Geographical Distribution of Diurnal and Semidiurnal Parametric Subharmonic Instability in a Global Ocean Circulation Model

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Marine Science


The evidence for, baroclinic energetics of, and geographic distribution of parametric subharmonic instability (PSI) arising from both diurnal and semidiurnal tides in a global ocean general circulation model is investigated using 1/12.5° and 1/25° simulations that are forced by both atmospheric analysis fields and the astronomical tidal potential. The paper examines whether PSI occurs in the model, and whether it accounts for a significant fraction of the tidal baroclinic energy loss. Using energy transfer calculations and bispectral analyses, evidence is found for PSI around the critical latitudes of the tides. The intensity of both diurnal and semidiurnal PSI in the simulations is greatest in the upper ocean, consistent with previous results from idealized simulations, and quickly drops off about 5° from the critical latitudes. The sign of energy transfer depends on location; the transfer is positive (from the tides to subharmonic waves) in some locations and negative in others. The net globally integrated energy transfer is positive in all simulations and is 0.5%–10% of the amount of energy required to close the baroclinic energy budget in the model. The net amount of energy transfer is about an order of magnitude larger in the 1/25° semidiurnal simulation than the 1/12.5° one, implying the dependence of the rate of energy transfer on model resolution.

Publication Title

Journal of Physical Oceanography

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