Simulating the Agulhas system in global ocean models – nesting vs. multi-resolution unstructured meshes.

Biastoch, Arne , Sein, Dmitry, Durgadoo, Jonathan V. , Wang, Qiang and Danilov, Sergey (2018) Simulating the Agulhas system in global ocean models – nesting vs. multi-resolution unstructured meshes. Ocean Modelling, 121 . pp. 117-131. DOI 10.1016/j.ocemod.2017.12.002.

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Supplementary data:


• Comparison of global NEMO and FESOM configurations with emphasis on the Agulhas system.
• Both models simulate a reasonable and comparable large-scale circulation.
• Both models have individual strengths and weaknesses to match the observations of the WBC system.
• The numerical cost of FESOM is twice the one of NEMO.

Many questions in ocean and climate modelling require the combined use of high resolution, global coverage and multi-decadal integration length. For this combination, even modern resources limit the use of traditional structured-mesh grids. Here we compare two approaches: A high-resolution grid nested into a global model at coarser resolution (NEMO with AGRIF) and an unstructured-mesh grid (FESOM) which allows to variably enhance resolution where desired. The Agulhas system around South Africa is used as a testcase, providing an energetic interplay of a strong western boundary current and mesoscale dynamics. Its open setting into the horizontal and global overturning circulations also requires global coverage.

Both model configurations simulate a reasonable large-scale circulation. Distribution and temporal variability of the wind-driven circulation are quite comparable due to the same atmospheric forcing. However, the overturning circulation differs, owing each model's ability to represent formation and spreading of deep water masses. In terms of regional, high-resolution dynamics, all elements of the Agulhas system are well represented. Owing to the strong nonlinearity in the system, Agulhas Current transports of both configurations and in comparison with observations differ in strength and temporal variability. Similar decadal trends in Agulhas Current transport and Agulhas leakage are linked to the trends in wind forcing.

Although the number of 3D wet grid points used in FESOM is similar to that in the nested NEMO, FESOM uses about two times the number of CPUs to obtain the same model throughput (in terms of simulated model years per day). This is feasible due to the high scalability of the FESOM code.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Unstructured grid; Nesting; Global ocean models; Mesoscale eddies; Agulhas current
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-TM Theory and Modeling
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
Publisher: Elsevier
Related URLs:
Projects: SPACES, AGULHAS, PalMod in-kind, Opendap
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2017 07:50
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2021 07:37

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