Numerical simulation of the Red Sea outflow using HYCOM and comparison with REDSOX observations

Yeon S. Chang, Tamay M. Özgökmen, Hartmut Peters, Xiaobiao Xu

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18 Scopus citations


The outflow of warm, salty, and dense water from the Red Sea into the western Gulf of Aden is numerically simulated using the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM). The pathways of the modeled overflow, temperature, salinity, velocity profiles from stations and across sections, and transport estimates are compared to those observed during the 2001 Red Sea Outflow Experiment. As in nature, the simulated outflow is funneled into two narrow channels along the seafloor. The results from the three-dimensional simulations show a favorable agreement with the observed temperature and salinity profiles along the channels. The volume transport of the modeled overflow increases with the increasing distance from the southern exit of the Bab el Mandeb Strait due to entrainment of ambient fluid, such that the modeled transport shows a reasonable agreement with that estimated from the observations. The initial propagation speed of the outflow is found to be smaller than the estimated interfacial wave speed. The slow propagation is shown to result from the roughness of the bottom topography characterized by a number of depressions that take time to be filled with outflow water. Sensitivities of the results to the horizontal grid spacing, different entrainment parameterizations, and forcing at the source location are investigated. Because of the narrow widths of the approximately 5 km of the outflow channels, a horizontal grid spacing of 1 km or less is required for model simulations to achieve a reasonable agreement with the observations. Comparison of two entrainment parameterizations, namely, TPX and K-profile parameterization (KPP), show that similar results are obtained at 1-km resolution. Overall, the simulation of the Red Sea outflow appears to be more strongly affected by the details of bottom topography and grid spacing needed to adequately resolve them than by parameterizations of diapycnal mixing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-358
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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