Simulated circulation of an idealized ocean for Pangaean time


  • J. E. Kutzbach,

  • P. J. Guetter,

  • W. M. Washington


An eight-level dynamical ocean model, driven by prescribed surface forcing (wind stress, temperature, precipitation-minus-evaporation) from a previously published Pangaean time climate simulation, is used to study possible features of ocean circulation, temperature, and salinity for the early Mesozoic. The simulations are sensitivity experiments rather than estimates of the actual circulation because many simplifying assumptions are made concerning the prescribed surface forcing and the ocean basin's shape and depth. Simulated features include relatively warm water in high latitudes, warm deep water, a westward flowing equatorial current across Panthalassa and into the Tethys Sea, poleward and eastward flowing currents along the Tethys coasts, and relatively vigorous meridional and longitudinal vertical overturning cells. Cool, relatively fresh polar water combines with warm, saline Tethys water to produce the relatively warm deep water. There are few geological estimates of early Mesozoic (Pangaean time) ocean circulation available for comparison with the simulated circulation.