New Technique to Track and Quantify Ocean Mixing Within the MPAS-O Ocean Model


Many scientists expect that carbon emitted from the burning of greenhouse gases and its accompanying heat will be predominantly sequestered within the deep ocean instead of the atmosphere. Understanding the mechanisms and quantifying the rate and variability of this sequestration has profound implications for predicting the rate of atmospheric warming over the next century. A recent publication by Department of Energy-supported scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory describes a new approach to track motion and mixing in an ocean model. Horizontal and vertical structure of mixing is quantified, along with its dependence upon eddy velocities, using the high-performance Lagrangian particle tracking (LIGHT) software within the Model for Prediction Across Scales Ocean (MPAS-O). The model computes ocean mixing directly from particle statistics to better understand the processes driving mixing and suggests improved methods to simulate them, which is vital for improved ocean and climate modeling.


Wolfram, P. J., T. D. Ringler, M. E. Maltrud, D. W. Jacobsen, and M. R. Petersen. 2015. “Diagnosing Isopycnal Diffusivity in an Eddying, Idealized Mid-Latitude Ocean Basin via Lagrangian In-Situ, Global, High-Performance Particle Tracking (LIGHT),” Journal of Physical Oceanography 45, 2114–33. DOI: 10.1175/JPO-D-14-0260.1.