Idealised modelling of ocean circulation driven by conductive and hydrothermal fluxes at the seabed

Jowan M. Barnes*, Miguel A. Morales Maqueda, Jeff A. Polton, Alex P. Megann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Geothermal heating is increasingly recognised as an important factor affecting ocean circulation, with modelling studies suggesting that this heat source could lead to first-order changes in the formation rate of Antarctic Bottom Water, as well as a significant warming effect in the abyssal ocean. Where it has been represented in numerical models, however, the geothermal heat flux into the ocean is generally treated as an entirely conductive flux, despite an estimated one third of the global geothermal flux being introduced to the ocean via hydrothermal sources. A modelling study is presented which investigates the sensitivity of the geothermally forced circulation to the way heat is supplied to the abyssal ocean. An analytical two-dimensional model of the circulation is described, which demonstrates the effects of a volume flux through the ocean bed. A simulation using the NEMO numerical general circulation model in an idealised domain is then used to partition a heat flux between conductive and hydrothermal sources and explicitly test the sensitivity of the circulation to the formulation of the abyssal heat flux. Our simulations suggest that representing the hydrothermal flux as a mass exchange indeed changes the heat distribution in the abyssal ocean, increasing the advective heat transport from the abyss by up to 35% compared to conductive heat sources. Consequently, we suggest that the inclusion of hydrothermal fluxes can be an important addition to course-resolution ocean models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-35
Number of pages10
JournalOcean Modelling
Volume122
Early online date23 Dec 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018

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