Articles | Volume 15, issue 8
31 Aug 1997
31 Aug 1997

Effects of convection instability due to incompatibility between ocean dynamics and surface forcings

W. Cai and P. C. Chu

Abstract. The study demonstrates that an incompatibility between a surface temperature climatology and a given ocean model, into which the climatology is assimilated via Haney restoration, can cause model ocean climate drift and interdecadal oscillations when the ocean is switched to a weaker restoration. This is made using an idealized Atlantic Ocean model driven by thermal and wind forcing only. Initially, the temperature climatology is forcefully assimilated into the model, and an implied heat flux field is diagnosed. During this stage any incompatibility is suppressed. The restoring boundary condition is then switched to a new forcing consisting of a part of the diagnosed flux and a part of the restoring forcing in such a way that at the moment of the switching the heat flux is identical to that prior to the switching. Under this new forcing condition, the incompatibility becomes manifest, causing changes in convection patterns, and producing drift and interdecadal oscillations. The mechanisms are described.