Vertical and horizontal resolution dependency in the model representation of tracer dispersion along the continental slope in the northern Gulf of Mexico Academic Article uri icon


  • 2017 A set of nine regional ocean model simulations at various horizontal (from 1 to 9 km) and vertical (from 25 to 150 layers) resolutions with different vertical mixing parameterizations is carried out to examine the transport and mixing of a passive tracer released near the ocean bottom over the continental slope in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The release location is in proximity to the Deepwater Horizon oil well that ruptured in April 2010. Horizontal and diapycnal diffusivities are calculated and their dependence on the model set-up and on the representation of mesoscale and submesoscale circulations is discussed. Horizontal and vertical resolutions play a comparable role in determining the modeled horizontal diffusivities. Vertical resolution is key to a proper representation of passive tracer propagation and in the case of the Gulf of Mexico contributes to both confining the tracer along the continental slope and limiting its vertical spreading. The choice of the tracer advection scheme is also important, with positive definiteness in the tracer concentration being achieved at the price of spurious mixing across density surfaces. In all cases, however, the diapycnal mixing coefficient derived from the model simulations overestimates the observed value, indicating an area where model improvement is needed.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Bracco, A., Choi, J., Kurian, J., & Chang, P.

citation count

  • 14

complete list of authors

  • Bracco, Annalisa||Choi, Jun||Kurian, Jaison||Chang, Ping

publication date

  • January 2018