Chapter 15 - Numerical Models

Chapter 15 Contents

15.7 Important Concepts

  1. Numerical models are used to simulate oceanic flows with realistic and useful results. The most recent models include heat fluxes through the surface, wind forcing, mesoscale eddies, realistic coasts and sea-floor features, and more than 20 levels in the vertical.
  2. Recent models are now so good, with resolution near 0.1°, that they show previously unknown aspects of the ocean circulation,
  3. Numerical models are not perfect. They solve discrete equations, which are not the same as the equations of motion described in earlier chapters. And,
  4. Numerical models cannot reproduce all turbulence of the ocean because the grid points are tens to hundreds of kilometers apart. The influence of turbulent motion over smaller distances must be calculated from theory, and this introduces errors.
  5. Numerical models can be forced by real-time oceanographic data from ships and satellites to produce forecasts of oceanic conditions, including El Niño in the Pacific, and the position of the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic.
  6. Coupled ocean-atmosphere models have much coarser spatial resolution so that that they can be integrated for hundreds of years to simulate the natural variability of the climate system and its response to increased CO2 in the atmosphere.

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