Articles | Volume 7, issue 1
Development and technical paper
28 Jan 2014
Development and technical paper |  | 28 Jan 2014

An improved parameterization of tidal mixing for ocean models

A. Schmittner and G. D. Egbert

Abstract. Two modifications to an existing scheme of tidal mixing are implemented in the coarse resolution ocean component of a global climate model. First, the vertical distribution of energy flux out of the barotropic tide is determined using high resolution bathymetry. This shifts the levels of mixing higher up in the water column and leads to a stronger mid-depth meridional overturning circulation in the model. Second, the local dissipation efficiency for diurnal tides is assumed to be larger than that for the semi-diurnal tides poleward of 30°. Both modifications are shown to improve agreement with observational estimates of diapycnal diffusivities based on microstructure measurements and circulation indices. We also assess impacts of different spatial distributions of the barotropic energy loss. Estimates based on satellite altimetry lead to larger diffusivities in the deep ocean and hence a stronger deep overturning circulation in our climate model that is in better agreement with observation based estimates compared to those based on a tidal model.