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On General Circulation and Energy Budget in the Area of the Central American Seas

Stefan L. HastenrathThe University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Abstract

The field of large-scale vertical motion and the atmospheric-oceanic energy budget in the areas of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico are studied with emphasis on seasonal and regional variations, using the available radiosonde data of the entire year 1960. The atmosphere over the Caribbean Sea exports latent heat during the winter half of the year, changing to import during summer, while divergence of the latent heat flux prevails over the Gulf of Mexico during most of the year with the exception of midsummer. The troposphere as a whole imports geopotential energy and sensible heat during winter in the Caribbean, and during most of the year in the Gulf area, this being effected by the upper-tropospheric westerly current originating over the equatorial regions of the eastern Pacific. During the summer half of the year, an export of geopotential energy and sensible heat takes place over the Caribbean Sea, being concentrated in the upper-tropospheric easterlies, this pattern also including the area of the Gulf of Mexico in midsummer. Regarding the total energy budget, the troposphere over the Caribbean Sea acts as an exporter of energy to other parts of the globe throughout the year, while import is indicated for the Gulf of Mexico during some winter months. Ocean currents export heat from the Caribbean Sea during the summer half of the year, while conspicuous import is indicated for the Gulf of Mexico throughout the year, with the exception of midsummer. The tropospheric energetics are discussed with respect to their role in the general circulation.

Abstract

The field of large-scale vertical motion and the atmospheric-oceanic energy budget in the areas of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico are studied with emphasis on seasonal and regional variations, using the available radiosonde data of the entire year 1960. The atmosphere over the Caribbean Sea exports latent heat during the winter half of the year, changing to import during summer, while divergence of the latent heat flux prevails over the Gulf of Mexico during most of the year with the exception of midsummer. The troposphere as a whole imports geopotential energy and sensible heat during winter in the Caribbean, and during most of the year in the Gulf area, this being effected by the upper-tropospheric westerly current originating over the equatorial regions of the eastern Pacific. During the summer half of the year, an export of geopotential energy and sensible heat takes place over the Caribbean Sea, being concentrated in the upper-tropospheric easterlies, this pattern also including the area of the Gulf of Mexico in midsummer. Regarding the total energy budget, the troposphere over the Caribbean Sea acts as an exporter of energy to other parts of the globe throughout the year, while import is indicated for the Gulf of Mexico during some winter months. Ocean currents export heat from the Caribbean Sea during the summer half of the year, while conspicuous import is indicated for the Gulf of Mexico throughout the year, with the exception of midsummer. The tropospheric energetics are discussed with respect to their role in the general circulation.

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