Parameter Sensitivity Study of the Saline Circulation

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Climate Dynamics
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Saline circulation forced by fresh water alone is studied for a broad region of parameter space by varying the amplitude and profile of evaporation minus precipitation, the vertical and horizontal mixing of salt, vertical and horizontal dissipation of momentum, and the horizontal resolution. The model is a modified Bryan-Cox model with a freshwater flux as the natural boundary condition for the salinity balance. For a model forced by a linear freshwater flux profile, as the amplitude of freshwater flux is increased from 0.01 m year-1 to 1 m year-1 with other parameters fixed, the system evolves from a steady state of no oscillation to a state of periodic oscillation whose frequency increases almost linearly with the amplitude of freshwater flux. When the freshwater flux is fixed and the vertical mixing coefficient is increased from 0.5 to 2.5 cm2s-1, the system evolves from a steady state to a state of single-period oscillation, chaotic, a single period, and finally to a chaotic state when the vertical mixing coefficient is larger than 2 cm2s-1. One set of numerical experiments forced by a cosine shape of freshwater flux clearly reveals the transition from a state of single period oscillation to period doubling, period quadrupling, and a state of chaotic oscillation. Simple scaling analysis and numerical experiments indicate that the strength of the meridional overturning increases with the square-root of the vertical mixing and the 1/4 power of the freshwater flux. The mean sea surface salinity (deviation from 35 psu) increases with the 3/4 power of the freshwater flux and decreases with the 1/2 power of the vertical salt mixing.


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