F. Sévellec, M. Jelloul, T. Huck
Dec 1, 2007
Journal of Physical Oceanography
Optimal surface salinity perturbations influencing the meridional overturning circulation maximum are exhibited and interpreted on a stable steady state of a 2D latitude–depth ocean thermohaline circulation model. Despite the stability of the steady state, the nonnormality of the dynamics is able to create some transient growth and variability through stimulation by optimal perturbations. Two different measures are compared to obtain the optimum—one associated with the departure from steady state in terms of density, and the other with the overturning circulation intensity. It is found that such optimal analysis is measure dependent; hence, the latter measure is chosen for studying the following physical mechanisms. The response to the optimal initial sea surface salinity perturbation involves a transient growth mechanism leading to a maximum modification of the circulation intensity after 67 yr; the amplification is linked to the most weakly damped linear eigenmode, oscillating on a 150-yr period. Optimal constant surface salinity flux perturbations are also obtained, and confirm that a decrease in the freshwater flux amplitude enhances the circulation intensity. At last, looking for the optimal stochastic surface salinity flux perturbation, it is established that the variance of the circulation intensity is controlled by the weakly damped 150-yr oscillation. Two approaches are tested to consider extending such studies in more realistic 3D models. Explicit solutions (versus eigenvalue problems) are found for the overturning circulation measure (except for the stochastic optimal); a truncation method on a few leading eigenmodes usually provides the optimal perturbations for analyses on long time scales.