GFDL - Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

[NYC and 0.1 degree thumbnail image]

Topic: Scientific Animations of High Resolution Ocean Model Component

Scientific animations associated with a poster presented at the October 2011 WCRP Open Science Conference (Dixon et al, 2011).

[NOAA GFDL CM2.6 SST thumbnail image]

Here we provide links to two scientific animations produced from the output of NOAA GFDL’s CM2.6 high resolution coupled climate model. The CM2.6 model consists of coupled atmosphere, ocean, sea ice, and land surface components. These movies focus on the ocean.

  [ Link to view Flash version of CM2.6 Arctic SSS animation – 1 minute 31 seconds ]

  GFDL CM 2.6 Ocean Simulation – Arctic Sea Surface Salinity

Looking down from high above Greenland, this animation depicts the day-by-day time evolution of sea surface salinities simulated by the GFDL CM2.6 climate model. Referring to the color bar in the lower right of the frame, one can see the interplay of fresh waters as they seek to exit the Arctic, moving southward along both sides of Greenland until they merge and circulate around the rim of the Labrador Sea. At the same time, higher salinity surface waters flow from the Gulf Stream extension, pass between Iceland and the British Isles, and enter the Nordic Seas.  This high resolution model – the model grid cells are all smaller than 5 km (3.1 miles) on a side in the Arctic region –  produces a wealth of eddies, which play a role in transport salt and heat in the ocean.

[Sea surface salinity simulated by the GFDL CM2.6 climate model]

Above: a snapshot from the GFDL CM2.6 Arctic sea surface salinity animation.

    [ Link to view Flash version of CM2.6 SST animation – 3 minutes 37 seconds ]

    GFDL CM 2.6 Ocean Simulation – Sea Surface Temperature

After the animation opens by comparing the size of an ocean model grid cell to the island of Manhattan, a series of regional views depicting model-simulated sea surface temperatures over time are presented. Compared to previous generation models that employed coarser spatial resolution, the CM2.6 model produces much more energetic and realistic ocean flows. The more realistic ocean currents and meso-scale eddies – the turbulent loops and whirls that tend to form along the periphery of strong currents – make the CM2.6 model a valuable tool to be used to study the ocean’s role in influencing climate and climate change.

[Sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific as simulated by the GFDL CM2.6 climate model]

Above: a snapshot from the GFDL CM2.6 sea surface temperature animation.