The effect of topography-enhanced diapycnal mixing on ocean and atmospheric circulation and marine biogeochemistry

The impact of topographically catalysed diapycnal mixing on ocean and atmospheric circulation as well as marine biogeochemistry is studied using an earth system model of intermediate complexity. The results of a model run in which diapycnal mixing depends on seafloor roughness are compared to a control run that uses a simple depth-dependent parametrization for vertical background diffusivity. A third model run is conducted that uses the horizontal mean of the topographically catalysed mixing as vertical profile in order to distinguish between the overall effect of larger diffusivities and the spatial heterogeneity of the novel mixing parametrization.
The new mixing scheme results in a strengthening of the deep overturning cell and enhances equatorial upwelling. Surface temperatures in the Southern Ocean increase by about 1 K (in the overall effect) whereas cooling of a similar magnitude in low latitudes is generated by the spatial heterogeneity of the mixing. The corresponding changes in the atmospheric circulation involve a weakening of the southern hemispheric Westerlies and a strengthening of the Walker circulation. Biogeochemical changes are dominated by an improved ventilation of the deep ocean from the south. Water mass ages decline significantly in the deep Indian Ocean and the deep North Pacific whereas oxygen increases in the two ocean basins. The representation of the global volume of water with an oxygen concentration lower than 90 µmol/kg in the model is improved using the topography catalysed mixing. Furthermore, primary production is stimulated in equatorial regions through increased upwelling of nutrients and reduced in the oligotrophic gyres.

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