Publication Abstracts

Holzer and Primeau 2008

Holzer, M., and F.W. Primeau, 2008: The path-density distribution of oceanic surface-to-surface transport. J. Geophys. Res., 113, C01018, doi:10.1029/2006JC003976.

A novel diagnostic for advective-diffusive surface-to-surface paths is developed and applied to a global ocean model. The diagnostic provides, for the first time, a rigorous quantitative assessment of the great ocean conveyor's deep branch. A new picture emerges of a diffusive conveyor in which the deep North Pacific is a holding pen of long-residence-time water. Our diagnostic is the joint density, η, per unit volume and interior residence time, τ, of paths connecting two specified surface patches. The spatially integrated η determines the residence-time partitioned flux and volume of water in transit from entry to exit patch. We focus on interbasin paths from high-latitude water-mass formation regions to key regions of re-exposure to the atmosphere. For non-overlapping patches, a characteristic timescale is provided by the residence time, τφ, for which the associated flux distribution, φ, has its maximum. Paths that are fast compared to τφ are organized by the ma jor current systems, while paths that are slow compared to τφ are dominated by eddy diffusion. Because φ has substantial weight in its tail for τ > τφ, the fast paths account for only a minority of the formation-to-re-exposure flux. This conclusion is expected to apply to the real ocean based on recent tracer data analyses, which point to long eddy-diffusive tails in the ocean's transit-time distributions. The long-τ asymptotic path density is governed by two time-invariant patterns. One pattern, which we call the Deep North Pacific pattern, ultimately dominates a secondary redistribution pattern.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={Holzer, M. and Primeau, F. W.},
  title={The path-density distribution of oceanic surface-to-surface transport},
  journal={J. Geophys. Res.},

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RIS Citation

ID  - ho04300u
AU  - Holzer, M.
AU  - Primeau, F. W.
PY  - 2008
TI  - The path-density distribution of oceanic surface-to-surface transport
JA  - J. Geophys. Res.
VL  - 113
SP  - C01018
DO  - 10.1029/2006JC003976
ER  -

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