Application of a Vanishing, Quasi-Sigma, Vertical Coordinate for Simulation of High-Speed, Deep Currents over the Sigsbee Escarpment in the Gulf of Mexico
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB STENNIS SPACE CENTER MS OCEANOGRAPHY DIV
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Recent observations over the Sigsbee Escarpment in the Gulf of Mexico have revealed extremely energetic deep currents near 1 msec, which are trapped along the escarpment. Both scientific interest and engineering needs demand dynamical understanding of these extreme events, and can benefit from a numerical model designed to complement observational and theoretical investigations in this region of complicated topography. The primary objective of this study is to develop a modeling methodology capable of simulating these physical processes and apply the model to the Sigsbee Escarpment region. The very steep slope of the Sigsbee Escarpment 0.05-0.1 limits the application of ocean models with traditional terrain-following sigma vertical coordinates. These models may represent the very complicated topography in the region adequately, but they can result in large truncation errors during calculation of the horizontal pressure gradient. A new vertical coordinate system, termed a vanishing quasi-sigma coordinate, is implemented in the Navy Coastal Ocean Model for application to the Sigsbee Escarpment region. Vertical coordinate surfaces for this grid have noticeably gentler slopes than a traditional sigma grid, while still following the terrain near the ocean bottom. The new vertical grid is tested with a suite of numerical experiments and compared to a classical sigma-layer model. The numerical error is substantially reduced in the model with the new vertical grid. A one-year, realistic, numerical simulation is performed to simulate strong, deep currents over the Escarpment using a very-high-resolution nested modeling approach. The model results are analyzed to demonstrate that the deep-ocean currents in the simulation replicate the prominent dynamical features of the observed intense currents in the region.
- Physical and Dynamic Oceanography
- Numerical Mathematics
- Computer Programming and Software