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Shusaku Sugimoto

Abstract

Variations in the turbulent heat flux (THF; the sum of the sensible and latent heat fluxes) in the eastern Kuroshio–Oyashio confluence region (EKOCR; 36°–40°N, 155°–160°E) were investigated over a period of 27 consecutive winters (December–February) from 1985/86 to 2011/12. The THF was calculated from a bulk formula using daily variables [surface wind speed, surface air specific humidity, surface air temperature, and sea surface temperature (SST)] of the objectively analyzed air–sea fluxes (OAFlux) dataset and bulk coefficients based on the Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE) bulk flux algorithm 3.0. The winter THF over the EKOCR showed low-frequency variations, with larger THF values in the early 2000s and smaller values in the late 1990s and late 2000s. The heat release in the early 2000s was up to ~40% greater than that in the late 1990s and late 2000s. By performing experiments using combinations of daily raw data values and daily climatological data, the relative contributions of SST, surface air specific humidity, surface air temperature, and surface wind speed were quantitatively assessed in determining the THF over the EKOCR. Results showed that SST predominantly determines the THF: large amounts of heat are released during times of positive SST anomalies. By using Argo float (temperature–salinity) profiles of 2003–12 and a satellite altimetry dataset of 1992–2012, it was found that the warm–salty water transported by an occurrence of the Kuroshio bifurcation was responsible for the generation of positive SST anomalies in the EKOCR.

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Bunmei Taguchi and Niklas Schneider

Abstract

Upper ocean heat content (OHC) is at the heart of natural climate variability on interannual-to-decadal time scales, providing climate memory and the source of decadal prediction skill. In the midlatitude North Pacific Ocean, OHC signals are often found to propagate eastward as opposed to the frequently observed westward propagation of sea surface height, another variable that represents the ocean subsurface state. This dichotomy is investigated using a 150-yr coupled GCM integration. Simulated OHC signals are distinguished in terms of two processes that can support eastward propagation: higher baroclinic Rossby wave (RW) modes that are associated with density perturbation, and spiciness anomalies due to density-compensated temperature and salinity anomalies. The analysis herein suggests a unique role of the Kuroshio–Oyashio Extension (KOE) region as an origin of the spiciness and higher mode RW signals. Wind-forced, westward-propagating equivalent barotropic RWs cause meridional shifts of the subarctic front in the KOE region. The associated anomalous circulation crosses mean temperature and salinity gradients and thereby generates spiciness anomalies. These anomalies are advected eastward by the mean currents, while the associated surface temperature anomalies are damped by air–sea heat exchange. The accompanying surface buoyancy flux generates higher baroclinic, eastward-propagating RWs. The results suggest that the large OHC variability in the western boundary currents and their extensions is associated with the spiciness gradients and axial variability of oceanic fronts.

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Atsuhiko Isobe, Shin’ichiro Kako, and Shinsuke Iwasaki

Abstract

Atmospheric responses to biological heating caused by the spring phytoplankton bloom in the Sea of Japan are investigated. Sea surface temperature (SST) is first computed using a mixed-layer model with an ocean reanalysis product. Satellite-derived surface chlorophyll concentrations representing phytoplankton population are input to an equation for attenuation coefficients of solar radiation penetrating the mixed layer. Two sets of SST are obtained by this model, using the attenuation coefficients with and without phytoplankton. It is found that the phytoplankton bloom increases SST by up to 0.8°C by mid-May, especially in the northern Sea of Japan. Thereafter, two experiments using a regional atmospheric numerical model are conducted for April and May. One imposes SST synthesized by multiple satellite observations on the lower boundary of the model (the green case). The satellite-derived SST includes influences of biological heating by phytoplankton in the actual ocean. The other uses SST reduced by differences between SSTs computed by the mixed-layer model with and without phytoplankton (the blue case). Under modest wind conditions, extratropical cyclones east and south of the Japan Islands in the blue case develop more rapidly than in the green case. Cyclones are likely initiated by the cool and dry air mass that enhances lower-level baroclinicity above oceanic fronts. This cool and dry air mass is transported from the Sea of Japan, where SST decreases in the absence of phytoplankton. Therefore, incorporating ocean biology is potentially capable of improving regional atmospheric and ocean general circulation models.

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Satoru Okajima, Hisashi Nakamura, Kazuaki Nishii, Takafumi Miyasaka, and Akira Kuwano-Yoshida

Abstract

Sets of atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) experiments are conducted to assess the importance of prominent positive anomalies in sea surface temperature (SST) observed over the midlatitude North Pacific in forcing a persistent basin-scale anticyclonic circulation anomaly and its downstream influence in 2011 summer and autumn. The anticyclonic anomaly observed in October is well reproduced as a robust response of an AGCM forced only with the warm SST anomaly associated with the poleward-shifted oceanic frontal zone in the midlatitude Pacific. The equivalent barotropic anticyclonic anomaly over the North Pacific is maintained under strong transient eddy feedback forcing associated with the poleward-deflected storm track. As the downstream influence of the anomaly, abnormal warmth and dryness observed over the northern United States and southern Canada in October are also reproduced to some extent. The corresponding AGCM response over the North Pacific to the tropical SST anomalies is similar but substantially weaker and less robust, suggesting the primary importance of the prominent midlatitude SST anomaly in forcing the large-scale atmospheric anomalies observed in October 2011. In contrast, the model reproduction of the atmospheric anomalies observed in summer was unsuccessful. This appears to arise from the fact that, unlike in October, the midlatitude SST anomalies accompanied reduction of heat and moisture release from the ocean, indicative of the atmospheric thermodynamic forcing on the SST anomalies. Furthermore, the distinct seasonality in the AGCM responses to the warm SST anomalies may also be contributed to by the seasonality of background westerlies and storm track.

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Thomas Kilpatrick, Niklas Schneider, and Bo Qiu

Abstract

Recent studies indicate that the influence of midlatitude SST fronts extends through the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL) into the free atmosphere, with implications for climate variability. To better understand the mechanisms of this ocean-to-atmosphere influence, SST-induced MABL convergence is explored here with the Weather Research and Forecasting mesoscale model in an idealized, dry, two-dimensional configuration, for winds crossing from cold to warm SST and from warm to cold SST.

For strong cross-front winds, O(10 m s−1), changes in the turbulent mixing and MABL depth across the SST front lead to MABL depth-integrated convergence in the cold-to-warm case and depth-integrated divergence in the warm-to-cold case. The turbulent stress divergence term changes over a shorter length scale than the pressure gradient and Coriolis terms, such that the MABL response directly above the SST front is governed by nonrotating, internal boundary layer–like physics, which are consistent with the vertical mixing mechanism. An important consequence is that the increment in the cross-front surface stress diagnoses the vertical motion at the top of the MABL. These physics are at variance with some previously proposed SST frontal MABL models in which pressure adjustments determine the MABL convergence.

The SST-induced MABL convergence results in vertical motion that excites a stationary internal gravity wave in the free atmosphere, analogous to a mountain wave. For a 15 m s−1 cross-front wind, the gravity wave forced by an SST increase of 3°C over 200 km is comparable to that forced by an 80-m change in topography.

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Akira Kuwano-Yoshida, Bunmei Taguchi, and Shang-Ping Xie

Abstract

The baiu rainband is a summer rainband stretching from eastern China through Japan toward the northwestern Pacific. The climatological termination of the baiu rainband is investigated using the Japanese 25-yr Reanalysis (JRA-25), a stand-alone atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) forced with observed sea surface temperature (SST) and an atmosphere–ocean GCM (AOGCM). The baiu rainband over the North Pacific abruptly shifts northward and weakens substantially in early July in the atmospheric GCM (AGCM), too early compared to observations (late July). The midtroposphere westerly jet and its thermal advection explain this meridional shift of the baiu rainband, but the ocean surface evaporation modulates the precipitation intensity. In AGCM, deep convection in the subtropical northwestern Pacific sets in prematurely, displacing the westerly jet northward over the cold ocean surface earlier than in observations. The suppressed surface evaporation over the cold ocean suppresses precipitation even though the midtropospheric warm advection and vertically integrated moisture convergence are similar to those before the westerly jet's northward shift. As a result, the baiu rainband abruptly weakens after the northward shift in JRA-25 and AGCM. In AOGCM, cold SST biases in the subtropics inhibit deep convection, delaying the poleward excursion of the westerly jet. As a result, the upward motion induced by both the strong westerly jet and the rainband persist over the northwestern Pacific through summer in the AOGCM. The results indicate that the westerly jet and the ocean evaporation underneath are important for the baiu rainband, the latter suggesting an oceanic effect on this important phenomenon.

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Young-Oh Kwon and Terrence M. Joyce

Abstract

Spatial and temporal covariability between the atmospheric transient eddy heat fluxes (i.e., 〈υT′〉 and 〈υq′〉) in the Northern Hemisphere winter (January–March) and the paths of the Gulf Stream (GS), Kuroshio Extension (KE), and Oyashio Extension (OE) are examined based on an atmospheric reanalyses and ocean observations for 1979–2009.

For the climatological winter mean, the northward heat fluxes by the synoptic (2–8 days) transient eddies exhibit canonical storm tracks with their maxima collocated with the GS and KE/OE. The intraseasonal (8 days–3 months) counterpart, while having overall similar amplitude, shows a spatial pattern with more localized maxima near the major orography and blocking regions. Lateral heat flux divergence by transient eddies as the sum of the two frequency bands exhibits very close coupling with the exact locations of the ocean fronts.

Linear regression is used to examine the lead–lag relationship between interannual changes in the northward heat fluxes by the transient eddies and the meridional changes in the paths of the GS, KE, and OE, respectively. One to three years prior to the northward shifts of each ocean front, the atmospheric storm tracks shift northward and intensify, which is consistent with wind-driven changes of the ocean. Following the northward shifts of the ocean fronts, the synoptic storm tracks weaken in all three cases. The zonally integrated northward heat transport by the synoptic transient eddies increases by ~5% of its maximum mean value prior to the northward shift of each ocean front and decreases to a similar amplitude afterward.

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