Dynamical Analysis of the Boundary Layer and Surface Wind Responses to Mesoscale SST Perturbations

Larry W. O'Neill, Steven K. Esbensen, Nicolai Thum, Roger M. Samelson, Dudley B. Chelton
2010 Journal of Climate  
The dynamical response of the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL) to mesoscale sea surface temperature (SST) perturbations is investigated over the Agulhas Return Current during winter from a 1-month, high-resolution, three-dimensional simulation using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) mesoscale model. A steady lower boundary condition for July 2002 is obtained using SST measurements from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer on the Earth Observing System (EOS)-Aqua satellite
more » ... EOS)-Aqua satellite (AMSR-E). The WRF models' ability to accurately simulate the SST-induced surface wind response is demonstrated from a comparison with satellite surface wind observations from the SeaWinds scatterometer on the Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) satellite. Relevant features of this simulation include a quasiperiodic distribution of mesoscale SST perturbations with spatial scales ;200 km and strong winds that lead to a large surface sensible heat flux response, whose broad range of 80-100 W m 22 between warm and cool SST perturbations is much larger than seen in most previous simulations of mesoscale wind-SST coupling. This simulation provides the first realistic example of vertical turbulent redistribution of momentum driven by the SST-induced surface heating perturbations acting in concert with the SST-induced pressure gradients to accelerate near-surface flow toward warm water and decelerate near-surface flow toward cool water. This simulation is also the first example of a near-surface wind speed response to mesoscale SST perturbations that differs qualitatively and substantially from the vertically averaged MABL wind response. In the vertically averaged MABL momentum budget, the surface wind stress acts as a drag on the SST-induced perturbation flow as it is being accelerated by SST-induced pressure gradients. However, only in the middle and upper reaches of the MABL does the turbulent stress divergence act as a drag on the SST-induced winds perturbations in this simulation. These mesoscale SST perturbations are also shown to modify the wind direction within the MABL. Dynamically, this is accomplished through SST-induced perturbations to the crosswind components of the pressure gradient, turbulent stress divergence, and the Coriolis force. Public reporting burden for the collection of information is estimated to average 1 hour per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to Washington Headquarters Services, Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, 1215 Jefferson Davis Highway, Suite 1204, Arlington VA 22202-4302. Respondents should be aware that notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person shall be subject to a penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information if it does not display a currently valid OMB control number.
doi:10.1175/2009jcli2662.1 fatcat:tl4gs3ij5ndmxik2dnhaeqvgta