Improved representation of river runoff in Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean Version 4 (ECCOv4) simulations: implementation, evaluation, and impacts to coastal plume regions

Feng, Yang; Menemenlis, Dimitris; Xue, Huijie; Zhang, Hong; Carroll, Dustin; Du, Yan; Wu, Hui

In this study, we improve the representation of global river runoff in the Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean Version 4 (ECCOv4) framework, allowing for a more realistic treatment of coastal plume dynamics. We use a suite of experiments to explore the sensitivity of coastal plume regions to runoff forcing, model grid resolution, and grid type. The results show that simulated sea surface salinity (SSS) is reduced as the model grid resolution increases. Compared to Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observations, simulated SSS is closest to SMAP when using daily, point-source runoff (DPR) and the intermediate-resolution LLC270 grid. The Willmott skill score, which quantifies agreement between models and SMAP, yields up to 0.92 for large rivers such as the Amazon. There was no major difference in SSS for tropical and temperate coastal rivers when the model grid type was changed from the ECCO v4 latitude–longitude–polar-cap grid to the ECCO2 cube–sphere grid. We also found that using DPR forcing and increasing model resolution from the coarse-resolution LLC90 grid to the intermediate-resolution LLC270 grid elevated the river plume area, volume, stabilized the stratification and shoal the mixed layer depth (MLD). Additionally, we find that the impacts of increasing model resolution from the intermediate-resolution LLC270 grid to the high-resolution LLC540 grid are regionally dependent. The Mississippi River Plume is more sensitive than other regions, possibly because the wider and shallower Texas–Louisiana shelf drives a stronger baroclinic effect, as well as relatively weak sub-grid vertical mixing and adjustment in this region. Since rivers deliver large amounts of freshwater and anthropogenic materials to coastal regions, improving the representation of river runoff in global, high-resolution models will advance studies of coastal hypoxia, carbon cycling, and regional weather and climate and will ultimately help to predict land–ocean–atmospheric feedbacks seamlessly in the next generation of Earth system models.

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Feng, Yang / Menemenlis, Dimitris / Xue, Huijie / et al: Improved representation of river runoff in Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean Version 4 (ECCOv4) simulations: implementation, evaluation, and impacts to coastal plume regions. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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