Lagrangian Timescales of Southern Ocean Upwelling in a Hierarchy of Model Resolutions

Henri F. Drake, Adele K. Morrison, Stephen M. Griffies, Jorge Louis Sarmiento, Wilbert Weijer, Alison R. Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In this paper we study upwelling pathways and timescales of Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) in a hierarchy of models using a Lagrangian particle tracking method. Lagrangian timescales of CDW upwelling decrease from 87 years to 31 years to 17 years as the ocean resolution is refined from 1° to 0.25° to 0.1°. We attribute some of the differences in timescale to the strength of the eddy fields, as demonstrated by temporally degrading high-resolution model velocity fields. Consistent with the timescale dependence, we find that an average Lagrangian particle completes 3.2 circumpolar loops in the 1° model in comparison to 0.9 loops in the 0.1° model. These differences suggest that advective timescales and thus interbasin merging of upwelling CDW may be overestimated by coarse-resolution models, potentially affecting the skill of centennial scale climate change projections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)891-898
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 28 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


  • Circumpolar Deep Water
  • Southern Ocean
  • eddy parameterization
  • meridional overturning circulation
  • ocean modeling
  • upwelling


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