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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The response of the upper ocean to meteorological forcing Denman, Kenneth Leslie


A model describing the time dependent response of the upper mixed layer of the ocean to meteorological forcing is developed. The turbulent mixing and the radiative heating are expressed so that only simple input parameters available from routine meteorological measurements are required. The model is sensitive to the rate of production by the wind stress of energy available for mixing, and to the rate of absorption with depth of the solar radiation. Observations obtained at Ocean Station 'Papa' indicate the rate and extent of deepening of the wind mixed layer of the ocean. The model accurately simulates the behavior of the upper ocean during a 12 day period for which observed values of wind speed, solar radiation, and back radiation are used as input. To obtain realistic results, a value of 0.0012 for the ratio of the potential energy increase of the water column to the downward transfer rate of turbulent energy by the wind stress is used. This value lies within the range, 0.0007 to 0.003, determined from observed data obtained with an STD during 3 storms. Wind stress estimates are calculated from propeller anemometer data gathered on the Weathership during the storms. The drag coefficient, C₁₀, remains constant at (1.63 ± 0.28) x 10⁻³ for wind speeds up to 17 meters per second. The time behaviors of the mean wind speed, the stress, and the wave energy are examined relative to the existing large scale weather patterns.

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