Interannual Variability in the Gulf of Alaska during the 1991–94 El Niño

Maria Flatau Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California

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Lynne Talley Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California

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David Musgrave University of Alaska at Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska

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Abstract

Mass and heat budgets in the Gulf of Alaska during the 1991–94 El Niño are examined using hydrographic data from several cruises undertaken as part of the International North Pacific Ocean Climate program and the repeated Canadian hydrographic sections out to Ocean Weather Station Papa. The geostrophic ocean circulation resulted in convergence of heat into the region in spring 1992 and spring 1993. The advective heat convergence in spring 1992 corresponded to an average surface heat flux from the ocean to the atmosphere of about 74 W m−2 in comparison with only 30 W m−2 during spring 1993. The larger ocean heat loss to the atmosphere in 1992 followed a winter of large tropical SST anomalies and anomalously low pressure in the Aleutian low.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Maria Flatau, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, Physical Oceanography Research Division, La Jolla, CA 92093-0221.

Email: mflatau@ucsd.edu

Abstract

Mass and heat budgets in the Gulf of Alaska during the 1991–94 El Niño are examined using hydrographic data from several cruises undertaken as part of the International North Pacific Ocean Climate program and the repeated Canadian hydrographic sections out to Ocean Weather Station Papa. The geostrophic ocean circulation resulted in convergence of heat into the region in spring 1992 and spring 1993. The advective heat convergence in spring 1992 corresponded to an average surface heat flux from the ocean to the atmosphere of about 74 W m−2 in comparison with only 30 W m−2 during spring 1993. The larger ocean heat loss to the atmosphere in 1992 followed a winter of large tropical SST anomalies and anomalously low pressure in the Aleutian low.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Maria Flatau, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, Physical Oceanography Research Division, La Jolla, CA 92093-0221.

Email: mflatau@ucsd.edu

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