The influence of numerical advection schemes on the results of ocean general circulation models
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- Gerdes, R., Köberle, C. & Willebrand, J. Climate Dynamics (1991) 5: 211. doi:10.1007/BF00210006
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The dependence of results from coarse-resolution models of the North Atlantic circulation on the numerical advection algorithm is studied. In particular, the sensitivity of parameters relevant for climate simulations as e.g., meridional transport of mass and heat and main thermocline thickness is investigated. Three algorithms were considered: (a) a central difference scheme with constant values for horizontal and vertical diffusion, (b) an upstream scheme with no explicit diffusion, and (c) a flux-corrected transport (FCT) scheme with constant and strictly isopycnal diffusion. The temporal evolution of the three models on time scales of centuries is markedly different, the upstream scheme resulting in much shorter adjustment time whereas the central difference scheme is slower and controlled by vertical diffusion rather than advection. In the steady state, the main thermocline structure is much less diffusive in the FCT calculation which also has much lower heat transport. Both horizontal circulation and overturning in the meridional-vertical plane are strongest in the upstream-model. The results are discussed in terms of the effective vertical (diapycnal) mixing in the different models. A significant increase in vertical resolution would be required to eliminate the high sensitivity due to the numerical algorithms, and allow physically motivated mixing formulations to become effective.