A Primer on Global Internal Tide and Internal Gravity Wave Continuum Modeling in HYCOM and MITgcm

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Marine Science


In recent years, high-resolution global three-dimensional ocean general circulation models have begun to include astronomical tidal forcing alongside atmospheric forcing. Such models can carry an internal tide field with a realistic amount of nonstationarity, and an internal gravity wave continuum spectrum that compares more closely with observations as model resolution increases. Global internal tide and gravity wave models are important for understanding the three-dimensional geography of ocean mixing, for operational oceanography, and for simulating and interpreting satellite altimeter observations. Here we describe the most important technical details behind such models, including atmospheric forcing, bathymetry, astronomical tidal forcing, self-attraction and loading, quadratic bottom boundary layer drag, parameterized topographic internal wave drag, shallow-water tidal equations, and a brief summary of the theory of linear internal gravity waves. We focus on simulations run with two models, the HYbrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology general circulation model (MITgcm). We compare the modeled internal tides and internal gravity wave continuum to satellite altimeter observations, moored observational records, and the predictions of the Garrett-Munk (1975) internal gravity wave continuum spectrum. We briefly examine specific topics of interest, such as tidal energetics, internal tide nonstationarity, and the role of nonlinearities in generating the modeled internal gravity wave continuum. We also describe our first attempts at using a Kalman filter to improve the accuracy of tides embedded within a general circulation model. We discuss the challenges and opportunities of modeling stationary internal tides, non-stationary internal tides, and the internal gravity wave continuum spectrum for satellite altimetry and other applications.

Publication Title

New Frontiers In Operational Oceanography

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