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Numerical Simulation of Air–Sea Coupling during Coastal Upwelling

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  • 1 College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
  • | 2 College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, and Cooperative Institute for Oceanographic Satellite Studies, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
  • | 3 Wind Research Cooperative, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
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Abstract

Air–sea coupling during coastal upwelling was examined through idealized three-dimensional numerical simulations with a coupled atmosphere–ocean mesoscale model. Geometry, topography, and initial and boundary conditions were chosen to be representative of summertime coastal conditions off the Oregon coast. Over the 72-h simulations, sea surface temperatures were reduced several degrees near the coast by a wind-driven upwelling of cold water that developed within 10–20 km off the coast. In this region, the interaction of the atmospheric boundary layer with the cold upwelled water resulted in the formation of an internal boundary layer below 100-m altitude in the inversion-capped boundary layer and a reduction of the wind stress in the coupled model to half the offshore value. Surface heat fluxes were also modified by the coupling. The simulated modification of the atmospheric boundary layer by ocean upwelling was consistent with recent moored and aircraft observations of the lower atmosphere off the Oregon coast during the upwelling season. For these 72-h simulations, comparisons of coupled and uncoupled model results showed that the coupling caused measurable differences in the upwelling circulation within 20 km off the coast. The coastal Ekman transport divergence was distributed over a wider offshore extent and a thinner ocean surface boundary layer, with consistently smaller offshore and depth-integrated alongshore transport formed in the upwelling region, in the coupled case relative to the uncoupled case. The results indicate that accurate models of coastal upwelling processes can require representations of ocean–atmosphere interactions on short temporal and horizontal scales.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Natalie Perlin, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, 104 COAS Admin. Bldg., Corvallis, OR 97331-5503. Email: nperlin@coas.oregonstate.edu

Abstract

Air–sea coupling during coastal upwelling was examined through idealized three-dimensional numerical simulations with a coupled atmosphere–ocean mesoscale model. Geometry, topography, and initial and boundary conditions were chosen to be representative of summertime coastal conditions off the Oregon coast. Over the 72-h simulations, sea surface temperatures were reduced several degrees near the coast by a wind-driven upwelling of cold water that developed within 10–20 km off the coast. In this region, the interaction of the atmospheric boundary layer with the cold upwelled water resulted in the formation of an internal boundary layer below 100-m altitude in the inversion-capped boundary layer and a reduction of the wind stress in the coupled model to half the offshore value. Surface heat fluxes were also modified by the coupling. The simulated modification of the atmospheric boundary layer by ocean upwelling was consistent with recent moored and aircraft observations of the lower atmosphere off the Oregon coast during the upwelling season. For these 72-h simulations, comparisons of coupled and uncoupled model results showed that the coupling caused measurable differences in the upwelling circulation within 20 km off the coast. The coastal Ekman transport divergence was distributed over a wider offshore extent and a thinner ocean surface boundary layer, with consistently smaller offshore and depth-integrated alongshore transport formed in the upwelling region, in the coupled case relative to the uncoupled case. The results indicate that accurate models of coastal upwelling processes can require representations of ocean–atmosphere interactions on short temporal and horizontal scales.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Natalie Perlin, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, 104 COAS Admin. Bldg., Corvallis, OR 97331-5503. Email: nperlin@coas.oregonstate.edu

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