The INALT family – a set of high-resolution nests for the Agulhas Current system within global NEMO ocean/sea-ice configurations
The Agulhas Current, the western boundary current of the South Indian Ocean, has been shown to play an important role in the connectivity between the Indian and Atlantic oceans. The greater Agulhas Current system is highly dominated by mesoscale dynamics. To investigate their influence on the regional and global circulations, a family of high-resolution ocean general circulation model configurations based on the NEMO code has been developed. Horizontal resolution refinement is achieved by embedding “nests” covering the South Atlantic and the western Indian oceans at 1/10∘ (INALT10) and 1/20∘ (INALT20) within global hosts with coarser resolutions. Nests and hosts are connected through two-way interaction, allowing the nests not only to receive boundary conditions from their respective host but also to feed back the impact of regional dynamics onto the global ocean. A double-nested configuration at 1/60∘ resolution (INALT60) has been developed to gain insights into submesoscale processes within the Agulhas Current system. Large-scale measures such as the Drake Passage transport and the strength of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation are rather robust among the different configurations, indicating the important role of the hosts in providing a consistent embedment of the regionally refined grids into the global circulation. The dynamics of the Agulhas Current system strongly depend on the representation of mesoscale processes. Both the southward-flowing Agulhas Current and the northward-flowing Agulhas Undercurrent increase in strength with increasing resolution towards more realistic values, which suggests the importance of improving mesoscale dynamics as well as bathymetric slopes along this narrow western boundary current regime. The exploration of numerical choices such as lateral boundary conditions and details of the implementation of surface wind stress forcing demonstrates the range of solutions within any given configuration.