TITLE

The Origin, Pathway, and Destination of Niño-3 Water Estimated by a Simulated Passive Tracer and Its Adjoint

AUTHOR(S)
Fukumori, Ichiro; Tong Lee; Cheng, Benny; Menemenlis, Dimitris
PUB. DATE
March 2004
SOURCE
Journal of Physical Oceanography;Mar2004, Vol. 34 Issue 3, p582
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
The nature of subtropical–tropical water mass exchange in the Pacific Ocean is investigated, focusing on the origin, pathway, and destination of water occupying the surface layer of the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean (Niño-3 region; 5°S–5°N, 150°–90°W). Simulated passive tracers and their adjoint are employed to explicitly follow the circulation of specific water masses accounting for advective and diffusive effects and their time variabilities. The evolution of the forward passive tracer and adjoint passive tracer can be identified as describing where the tracer-tagged water mass goes and from where it comes, respectively. Over 10 years on average, water mass of the Niño-3 region can be traced back to eastern subtropical thermocline waters of the Northern (27%) and Southern Hemispheres (39%). The Niño-3 water subsequently returns to these subtropical latitudes in the upper ocean. In contrast to the hypothesized “subtropical cell,” however, this circulation is an open circuit with water returning to the western regions of the two hemispheres (subtropical gyres) and to the Indian Ocean, instead of returning to its origins. The representative transit time scale from the subtropics to the Tropics is 10–15 yr. Temporal variability causes the tropical circulation inferred from a time-mean state to differ significantly from the average circulation. In particular, stirring due to nonseasonal, intra-annual variability significantly enhances the transport magnitude of the so-called interior pathways relative to that of the circuitous low-latitude western boundary pathways. Such short-circuit in the subtropical–tropical exchange may help better to explain tracer distributions, such as the observed midbasin tritium maximum in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Significant differences in circulation pathways are also identified that are associated with El Niño and La Niña events. The strength of the subtropical–tropical water mass exchange is estimated to have weakened during the 1990s.
ACCESSION #
12556315

 

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