Impact of the Diurnal Cycle of Solar Radiation on Intraseasonal SST Variability in the Western Equatorial Pacific

Toshiaki Shinoda NOAA–CIRES Climate Diagnostics Center, Boulder, Colorado

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Abstract

The mechanism by which the diurnal cycle of solar radiation modulates intraseasonal SST variability in the western Pacific warm pool is investigated using a one-dimensional mixed layer model. SSTs in the model experiments forced with hourly surface fluxes during the calm–sunny phase of intraseasonal oscillation are significantly warmer than those with daily mean surface fluxes. The difference in two experiments is explained by upper-ocean mixing processes during nighttime. Surface warming during daytime creates a shallow diurnal warm layer near the surface (0–3 m), which can be easily eroded by surface cooling during nighttime. Further cooling, however, requires a substantial amount of energy because deeper waters need to be entrained into the mixed layer. Since the shallow diurnal layer is not formed in the experiment with daily mean surface fluxes, the SST for the hourly forcing case is warmer most of the time due to the diurnally varying solar radiation.

Sensitivity of the intraseasonal SST variation to the penetrative component of solar radiation is examined, showing that the diurnal cycle plays an important role in the sensitivity. Solar radiation absorbed in the upper few meters significantly influences intraseasonal SST variations through changes in amplitude of diurnal SST variation.

Corresponding author address: Toshiaki Shinoda, NOAA–CIRES Climate Diagnostics Center, 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80305. Email: toshiaki.shinoda@noaa.gov

Abstract

The mechanism by which the diurnal cycle of solar radiation modulates intraseasonal SST variability in the western Pacific warm pool is investigated using a one-dimensional mixed layer model. SSTs in the model experiments forced with hourly surface fluxes during the calm–sunny phase of intraseasonal oscillation are significantly warmer than those with daily mean surface fluxes. The difference in two experiments is explained by upper-ocean mixing processes during nighttime. Surface warming during daytime creates a shallow diurnal warm layer near the surface (0–3 m), which can be easily eroded by surface cooling during nighttime. Further cooling, however, requires a substantial amount of energy because deeper waters need to be entrained into the mixed layer. Since the shallow diurnal layer is not formed in the experiment with daily mean surface fluxes, the SST for the hourly forcing case is warmer most of the time due to the diurnally varying solar radiation.

Sensitivity of the intraseasonal SST variation to the penetrative component of solar radiation is examined, showing that the diurnal cycle plays an important role in the sensitivity. Solar radiation absorbed in the upper few meters significantly influences intraseasonal SST variations through changes in amplitude of diurnal SST variation.

Corresponding author address: Toshiaki Shinoda, NOAA–CIRES Climate Diagnostics Center, 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80305. Email: toshiaki.shinoda@noaa.gov

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