The distribution of kinetic energy in the Southern Ocean: A comparison between observations and an eddy resolving general circulation model

David P. Stevens, Peter D. Killworth

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It is widely believed from model studies that the transient eddy field plays an important role in the dynamics of the Southern Ocean. Accordingly, the distribution and partition of kinetic energy from an eddy resolving general circulation model of the Southern Ocean is compared with existing non-altimetric observations. Good agreement in distribution is found with some of the more recent observations. The amplitudes of the model energies, while for the most part well correlated with observations, are significantly lower than those observed (although observations differ greatly in their estimates). This reduction of energy is in agreement with other recent eddy resolving models, and is partly caused by the lack of correctly varying wind and buoyancy forcing, together with inadequate representation of instability processes. Nevertheless, the correlations suggest that the model results may be used as a proxy for reality in many circumstances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-257
Number of pages7
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1285
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 1992

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