Physical and biogeochemical responses in the Southern Ocean to a simple parameterization of Langmuir circulation

Yong Jin Tak, Hajoon Song, Yign Noh, Yeonju Choi

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Langmuir circulation (LC) plays an important role in deepening the mixed layer, especially when the ocean is weakly stratified. LC parameterization has been known to improve the accuracy of the mixed-layer depth, sea surface temperature, and ocean ventilation in the Southern Ocean. However, changes in ocean dynamics and biogeochemical processes owing to LC mixing have rarely been investigated. In this study, we implemented LC parameterization to a physical–biogeochemical coupled model and examined the changes in water properties and circulation and their effects on biogeochemical processes in the Southern Ocean. The LC effect enhances the turbulent mixing length scale and turbulent kinetic energy, especially in the subantarctic region, resulting in the deepening of the mixed layer. Increased vertical mixing causes deeper warm and saline water to reach the surface layer and weakens the surface meridional velocity by transferring momentum deeper. The weakening of the meridional velocity decreases equatorward freshwater transport, causing the surface water to become saltier and denser north of 50°S adjacent to the formation site of Subantarctic Mode Water, which enhances ocean ventilation eventually. Additionally, the weak equatorward velocity drives the retreat of sea-ice south of 60°S, leading to cooler and fresher water in the southern region of 60°S. Changes in the sea-ice distribution, mixed-layer depth, and dissolved inorganic carbon distribution alter the air-sea CO2 exchange, suggesting that the LC parameterization in the model can ameliorate 10% of the air-sea CO2 exchange. The LC effects on biogeochemical tracers, such as iron (Fe) and dissolved inorganic carbon, are mainly determined by changes in ocean circulation, and the modest improvement in primary productivity is mainly attributed to the changes in the Fe distribution in the high-nutrient, low-chlorophyll region, where Fe availability limits primary production. Although the direct LC effects occur near the surface, the altered meridional circulation spreads the effects to a deeper layer and improves the overall representation of physical, biogeochemical tracers and air-sea CO2 exchange in the Southern Ocean, suggesting that a simple LC parameterization can improve the ocean model.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102152
JournalOcean Modelling
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Feb

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s)

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Oceanography
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Atmospheric Science


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