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High-resolution modeling of nearshore circulation in an upwelling ecosystem: resolving sub-mesoscale variability

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Abstract

While numerical modeling has proven successful at reproducing the physical, chemical, and biological processes associated with circulation over regional and mesoscales, challenges remain for modeling the coastal zone at sufficiently high resolution to resolve coastal flows and their interactions with larger-scale processes. Computational costs associated with grid resolution and limited observations for model validation are important concerns. This study evaluates a climatological hydrodynamic model off central Chile (28-38°S), which has three nested domains to reproduce both the regional and nearshore circulation patterns. To determine whether submesoscale processes propagate up to larger scales, results from the nested High-Resolution Model (HRM2, 32-34°S and 0.87 km resolution) and its parent (HRM0, 28-36°S and 7.4 km) were compared with those from a Low-resolution Model (LRM0) configured with the exact resolution as the HRM0. While both HRM0 and LRM0 reproduced well the climatological Sea Surface Temperature (SST) and Salinity (SSS), as well as the general spatial patterns of kinetic energy, the annual transport of the Peru-Chile Undercurrent (PCUC) increased in the nested HRM0 (-0.7 to-1.3 Sv) compared to the LRMO (-0.58 to-0.95 Sv). Moreover, the Coastal Chilean Current (CCC) became up 2.16 faster in HRM2 than in LRM0, with a sharp shoreward decline in the maximum speed (down to 1 11 cm/s) nearshore, defining in this manner a coastal boundary layer (CBL), which was not reproduced by the LRM0. Also, the upwelling process in the HRMO was intensified by topographic features and was spatially consistent with ageostrophic circulation patterns. As expected, the most remarkable differences between model resolutions emerged nearshore, especially within the CBL, highlighting the importance of topographic effects on coastal circulation. Thus, although the low-resolution model can reproduce patterns of circulation in the coastal ocean fairly well, resolving submesoscale variability as in the HRMO imposes moderate to large changes in transport, current velocities, vorticity and topographic realism of the upwelling process. The extent to which variation in these processes affects biochemical processes, particle transports, and or larval dispersal must still be investigated.
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Dates and versions

hal-03520891 , version 1 (11-01-2022)

Identifiers

  • HAL Id : hal-03520891 , version 1

Cite

Juan Faúndez, Céline Acary-Robert, Christopher Aiken, Sergio Navarrete, Antoine Rousseau. High-resolution modeling of nearshore circulation in an upwelling ecosystem: resolving sub-mesoscale variability. 2022. ⟨hal-03520891⟩
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