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Sea Level Pressure Minimum along the Kuroshio and Its Extension

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  • 1 Faculty of Environmental Earth Science, and Graduate School of Environmental Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, and Research Institute for Global Change, JAMSTEC, Yokohama, Japan
  • | 2 Faculty of Environmental Earth Science, and Graduate School of Environmental Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
  • | 3 International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • | 4 International Pacific Research Center, and Department of Meteorology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii
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Abstract

Atmospheric effects of sea surface temperature (SST) fronts along the Kuroshio and Kuroshio Extension (K-KE) are investigated by examining spatial characteristics of the climatological sea level pressure (SLP), surface winds and surface heat flux (Q) fields based on an in situ observation dataset. A hydrostatic effect of the SST front is observed during the northwesterly monsoon characterized by a westward-extending low-SLP wedge (trough) slightly south of the peak in Q along the K-KE. Ageostrophic surface westerlies crossing SLP isobars toward a trough center are found north of the low-SLP wedge apparently because of the eastward acceleration by the vertical mixing effect. This feature of the ageostrophic winds is less pronounced south of it, a north–south asymmetry arising as vertical mixing accelerates (decelerates) eastward ageostrophic winds north (south) of it. While the SLP trough near the SST front is found nearly year-round except for summer, its meridional location seasonally migrates probably due to the change in the mean surface flow.

Regional atmospheric model experiments are conducted to examine the effect of the SST front on the overlying atmosphere. The observed features in winter are adequately simulated when high-resolution SST is prescribed as the boundary condition. The strong Q along the K-KE and resultant SLP trough and ageostrophic surface winds are absent when the SST boundary condition is smoothed in space to weaken the SST front. These results illustrate that the cross-frontal change in Q is of great importance to leave the SST imprint on the overlying atmosphere via hydrostatic and vertical mixing adjustments.

International Pacific Research Center Publication Number 764 and School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology Publication Number 8105.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Youichi Tanimoto, Faculty of Environmental Earth Science, Hokkaido University, N10 W5, Kita-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0810, Japan. E-mail: tanimoto@ees.hokudai.ac.jp

Abstract

Atmospheric effects of sea surface temperature (SST) fronts along the Kuroshio and Kuroshio Extension (K-KE) are investigated by examining spatial characteristics of the climatological sea level pressure (SLP), surface winds and surface heat flux (Q) fields based on an in situ observation dataset. A hydrostatic effect of the SST front is observed during the northwesterly monsoon characterized by a westward-extending low-SLP wedge (trough) slightly south of the peak in Q along the K-KE. Ageostrophic surface westerlies crossing SLP isobars toward a trough center are found north of the low-SLP wedge apparently because of the eastward acceleration by the vertical mixing effect. This feature of the ageostrophic winds is less pronounced south of it, a north–south asymmetry arising as vertical mixing accelerates (decelerates) eastward ageostrophic winds north (south) of it. While the SLP trough near the SST front is found nearly year-round except for summer, its meridional location seasonally migrates probably due to the change in the mean surface flow.

Regional atmospheric model experiments are conducted to examine the effect of the SST front on the overlying atmosphere. The observed features in winter are adequately simulated when high-resolution SST is prescribed as the boundary condition. The strong Q along the K-KE and resultant SLP trough and ageostrophic surface winds are absent when the SST boundary condition is smoothed in space to weaken the SST front. These results illustrate that the cross-frontal change in Q is of great importance to leave the SST imprint on the overlying atmosphere via hydrostatic and vertical mixing adjustments.

International Pacific Research Center Publication Number 764 and School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology Publication Number 8105.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Youichi Tanimoto, Faculty of Environmental Earth Science, Hokkaido University, N10 W5, Kita-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0810, Japan. E-mail: tanimoto@ees.hokudai.ac.jp
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