, Volume 57, Issue 4-5, pp 269-285
Date: 02 Sep 2007

The impact of freshwater discharges on the ocean circulation in the Skagerrak/northern North Sea area Part I: model validation

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Abstract

We assess the performance of an eddy-recognizing numerical ocean model in simulating the pattern and variability of the hydrography in the Skagerrak/northern North Sea area. The model we use is a version of the widely used Princeton ocean model employing a terrain-following vertical coordinate. Results from a series of five multi-year simulations of the mesoscale response are described. The simulations differ in their representation of the lateral freshwater supply to the model ocean of which the first is a reference simulation. The next four are variations in which the river discharges and/or the Baltic outflow are given more realistic representations. For validation, we have used in situ hydrographic data. A novelty is that we use the concepts of freshwater height and potential energy anomaly as objective validation tools. We find that, in general, the model faithfully reproduces many of the observed hydrographic features including their mean patterns and their variance. Not surprisingly, we find that the Baltic outflow is by far the most significant freshwater source in terms of its influence on the hydrography in the area, a result corroborating earlier findings. The best validation is obtained when all freshwater supply is made as realistic as possible, in particular the Baltic outflow. We also find that the large scale cyclonic circulation and the location of fronts are robust characteristics of the Skagerrak/northern North Sea circulation given the impact changes in the freshwater input has on the hydrography. Finally, we find that a further exploration of the impact of the lateral open boundary forcing, e.g., the input of Atlantic water, is needed.
Responsible editor: Phil Dyke