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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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