Response of the atmospheric boundary layer to a mesoscale oceanic eddy in the northeast Atlantic

Abstract : Fields of air-sea turbulent fluxes and bulk variables were derived from satellite sensor data from February to April 2001, over a region of the northeast Atlantic where a field experiment, Programme Oce´an Multidisciplinaire Meso Echelle (POMME), was conducted. The satellite products are in good agreement with in situ data in terms of heat fluxes, sea surface temperature, and wind speed. The central part of the experimental domain presented a cyclonic eddy in the ocean, which corresponded to a cold sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly. Winds were weaker within the eddy than outside of it, with lower latent and sensible heat loss. In order to analyze the relationship between the SST and wind anomalies, three numerical experiments were conducted with a regional atmospheric model. Three 3-month runs of the model were performed, using a realistic SST field, a smoothed SST field in which the cold SST was not present (reference run), and an SST field where the cold anomaly was increased by two degrees, successively. The fields simulated with the realistic SST were consistent with satellite sensor derived observations. In particular, the weak wind area over the cold SST anomaly was successfully rendered, whereas it was not present in the forcing fields. Taken individually, the three runs did not reveal the presence of secondary circulations. However, anomalous secondary circulations were clearly identified with respect to the reference run. The origin of the latter circulations was investigated with the Giordani and Planton generalization of the Sawyer-Eliassen equations. According to our results, differential heating induced by the cold SST anomaly mostly altered the vertical wind through the effect of friction and only marginally through pressure gradient forces. In the upper part of the boundary layer, the wind speed increased (decreased) over (downstream) the cold SST. We found that stability was the main factor that induced the simulated patterns of the friction term in the diagnostic equations. Therefore our results show that mesoscale wind patterns were significantly affected by SST gradients through the effect of stability, in a region of low oceanic eddy activity.
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Contributor : Denis Bourras <>
Submitted on : Monday, September 18, 2006 - 8:07:08 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, September 19, 2019 - 2:00:02 PM

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Denis Bourras, Gilles Reverdin, Guy Caniaux, Hervé Giordani. Response of the atmospheric boundary layer to a mesoscale oceanic eddy in the northeast Atlantic. Journal of Geophysical Research, American Geophysical Union, 2004, 109, pp.1-19. ⟨10.1029/2004JD004799⟩. ⟨hal-00095606⟩

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