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Daisuke Hotta and Hisashi Nakamura

Abstract

The relative importance between the sensible heat supply from the ocean and latent heating is assessed for the maintenance of near-surface mean baroclinicity in the major storm-track regions, by analyzing steady linear responses of a planetary wave model to individual components of zonally asymmetric thermal forcing taken from a global reanalysis dataset. The model experiments carried out separately for the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and south Indian Oceans indicate that distinct local maxima of near-surface baroclinicity observed along the storm tracks can be reinforced most efficiently as a response to the near-surface sensible heating. The result suggests the particular importance of the differential sensible heat supply from the ocean across an oceanic frontal zone for the efficient restoration of surface baroclinicity, which acts against the relaxing effect by poleward eddy heat transport, setting up conditions favorable for the recurrent development of transient eddies to anchor a storm track. Unlike what has been suggested, the corresponding reinforcement of the near-surface baroclinicity along a storm track as the response to the latent heating due either to cumulus convection or large-scale condensation is found less efficient. As is well known, poleward eddy heat flux convergence acts as the primary contributor to the reinforcement of the surface westerlies, especially in the core of a storm track. In its exit region, a substantial contribution to the reinforcement arises also from a planetary wave response to the sensible heat supply from the ocean. In contrast, the surface wind acceleration as a planetary wave response to the latent heating is found to contribute negatively to the maintenance of the surface westerlies along any of the major storm tracks.

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Xujing Jia Davis, Lewis M. Rothstein, William K. Dewar, and Dimitris Menemenlis

Abstract

North Pacific Subtropical Mode Water (NPSTMW) is an essential feature of the North Pacific subtropical gyre imparting significant influence on regional SST evolution on seasonal and longer time scales and, as such, is an important component of basin-scale North Pacific climate variability. This study examines the seasonal-to-interannual variability of NPSTMW, the physical processes responsible for this variability, and the connections between NPSTMW and basin-scale climate signals using an eddy-permitting 1979–2006 ocean simulation made available by the Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, Phase II (ECCO2). The monthly mean seasonal cycle of NPSTMW in the simulation exhibits three distinct phases: (i) formation during November–March, (ii) isolation during March–June, and (iii) dissipation during June–November—each corresponding to significant changes in upper-ocean structure. An interannual signal is also evident in NPSTMW volume and other characteristic properties with volume minima occurring in 1979, 1988, and 1999. This volume variability is correlated with the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) with zero time lag. Further analyses demonstrate the connection of NPSTMW to the basin-scale ocean circulation. With this, modulations of upper-ocean structure driven by the varying strength and position of the westerlies as well as the regional air–sea heat flux pattern are seen to contribute to the variability of NPSTMW volume on interannual time scales.

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Claude Frankignoul, Nathalie Sennéchael, Young-Oh Kwon, and Michael A. Alexander

Abstract

The meridional shifts of the Oyashio Extension (OE) and of the Kuroshio Extension (KE), as derived from high-resolution monthly sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in 1982–2008 and historical temperature profiles in 1979–2007, respectively, are shown based on lagged regression analysis to significantly influence the large-scale atmospheric circulation. The signals are independent from the ENSO teleconnections, which were removed by seasonally varying, asymmetric regression onto the first three principal components of the tropical Pacific SST anomalies. The response to the meridional shifts of the OE front is equivalent barotropic and broadly resembles the North Pacific Oscillation/western Pacific pattern in a positive phase for a northward frontal displacement. The response may reach 35 m at 250 hPa for a typical OE shift, a strong sensitivity since the associated SST anomaly is 0.5 K. However, the amplitude, but not the pattern or statistical significance, strongly depends on the lag and an assumed 2-month atmospheric response time. The response is stronger during fall and winter and when the front is displaced southward. The response to the northward KE shifts primarily consists of a high centered in the northwestern North Pacific and hemispheric teleconnections. The response is also equivalent barotropic, except near Kamchatka, where it tilts slightly westward with height. The typical amplitude is half as large as that associated with OE shifts.

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Jianping Li, Zhiwei Wu, Zhihong Jiang, and Jinhai He

Abstract

The Indian summer monsoon (ISM) tends to be intensified in a global-warming scenario, with a weakened linkage with El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), but how the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) responds is still an open question. This study investigates the responses of the EASM from observations, theoretical, and modeling perspectives. Observational and theoretical evidence demonstrates that, in contrast to the dramatic global-warming trend within the past 50 years, the regional-mean EASM rainfall is basically dominated by considerable interannual-to-decadal fluctuations, concurrent with enhanced precipitation over the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and over southern Japan and suppressed rainfall amount over the South China and Philippine Seas. From 1958 through 2008, the EASM circulation exhibits a southward shift in its major components (the subtropical westerly jet stream, the western Pacific Ocean subtropical high, the subtropical mei-yu–baiu–changma front, and the tropical monsoon trough). Such a southward shift is very likely or in part due to the meridional asymmetric warming with the most prominent surface warming in the midhigh latitudes (45°–60°N), which induces a weakened meridional thermal contrast over eastern Asia. Another notable feature is the enhanced ENSO–EASM relationship within the past 50 years, which is opposite to the ISM. Fourteen state-of-the-art coupled models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that the EASM strength does not respond with any pronounced trend to the global-warming “A1B” forcing scenario (with an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 720 ppm) but shows interannual-to-decadal variations in the twenty-first century (2000–99). These results indicate that the primary response of the EASM to a warming climate may be a position change instead of an intensity change, and such position change may lead to spatial coexistence of floods and droughts over eastern Asia as has been observed in the past 50 years.

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Mototaka Nakamura and Shozo Yamane

Abstract

Variability in the monthly-mean flow and storm track in the North Pacific basin is examined with a focus on the near-surface baroclinicity. Dominant patterns of anomalous near-surface baroclinicity found from empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analyses generally show mixed patterns of shift and changes in the strength of near-surface baroclinicity. Composited anomalies in the monthly-mean wind at various pressure levels based on the signals in the EOFs show accompanying anomalies in the mean flow up to 50 hPa in the winter and up to 100 hPa in other seasons. Anomalous eddy fields accompanying the anomalous near-surface baroclinicity patterns exhibit, broadly speaking, structures anticipated from simple linear theories of baroclinic instability, and suggest a tendency for anomalous wave fluxes to accelerate–decelerate the surface westerly accordingly. However, the relationship between anomalous eddy fields and anomalous near-surface baroclinicity in the midwinter is not consistent with the simple linear baroclinic instability theories. Composited anomalous sea surface temperature (SST) accompanying anomalous near-surface baroclinicity often exhibits moderate values and large spatial scales in the basin, rather than large values concentrated near the oceanic fronts. In the midsummer and in some cases in cold months, however, large SST anomalies are found around the Kuroshio–Oyashio Extensions. Accompanying anomalies in the net surface heat flux, SST in the preceding and following months, and meridional eddy heat flux in the lower troposphere suggest active roles played by the ocean in generating the concomitant anomalous large-scale atmospheric state in some of these cases.

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Lu Anne Thompson and Young-Oh Kwon

Abstract

Enhanced decadal variability in sea surface temperature (SST) centered on the Kuroshio Extension (KE) has been found in the Community Climate System Model version 3 (CCSM3) as well as in other coupled climate models. This decadal peak has higher energy than is found in nature, almost twice as large in some cases. While previous analyses have concentrated on the mechanisms for such decadal variability in coupled models, an analysis of the causes of excessive SST response to changes in wind stress has been missing. Here, a detailed comparison of the relationships between interannual changes in SST and sea surface height (SSH) as a proxy for geostrophic surface currents in the region in both CCSM3 and observations, and how these relationships depend on the mean ocean circulation, temperature, and salinity, is made. We use observationally based climatological temperature and salinity fields as well as satellite-based SSH and SST fields for comparison. The primary cause for the excessive SST variability is the coincidence of the mean KE with the region of largest SST gradients in the model. In observations, these two regions are separated by almost 500 km. In addition, the too shallow surface oceanic mixed layer in March north of the KE in the subarctic Pacific contributes to the biases. These biases are not unique to CCSM3 and suggest that mean biases in current, temperature, and salinity structures in separated western boundary current regions can exert a large influence on the size of modeled decadal SST variability.

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Kathryn A. Kelly, R. Justin Small, R. M. Samelson, Bo Qiu, Terrence M. Joyce, Young-Oh Kwon, and Meghan F. Cronin

Abstract

In the Northern Hemisphere midlatitude western boundary current (WBC) systems there is a complex interaction between dynamics and thermodynamics and between atmosphere and ocean. Their potential contribution to the climate system motivated major parallel field programs in both the North Pacific [Kuroshio Extension System Study (KESS)] and the North Atlantic [Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) Mode Water Dynamics Experiment (CLIMODE)], and preliminary observations and analyses from these programs highlight that complexity. The Gulf Stream (GS) in the North Atlantic and the Kuroshio Extension (KE) in the North Pacific have broad similarities, as subtropical gyre WBCs, but they also have significant differences, which affect the regional air–sea exchange processes and their larger-scale interactions. The 15-yr satellite altimeter data record, which provides a rich source of information, is combined here with the longer historical record from in situ data to describe and compare the current systems. While many important similarities have been noted on the dynamic and thermodynamic aspects of the time-varying GS and KE, some not-so-subtle differences exist in current variability, mode water properties, and recirculation gyre structure. This paper provides a comprehensive comparison of these two current systems from both dynamical and thermodynamical perspectives with the goal of developing and evaluating hypotheses about the physics underlying the observed differences, and exploring the WBC’s potential to influence midlatitude sea–air interaction. Differences between the GS and KE systems offer opportunities to compare the dominant processes and thereby to advance understanding of their role in the climate system.

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Masanori Konda, Hiroshi Ichikawa, Hiroyuki Tomita, and Meghan F. Cronin

Abstract

Wintertime sea surface heat flux variability across the Kuroshio Extension (KE) front is analyzed using data from the Kuroshio Extension Observatory (KEO) buoy in the Kuroshio recirculation gyre south of the KE front and from the Japan Agency for Marine–Earth Science and Technology KEO (JKEO) buoy in the north of the front. The coincident data used are from periods during two winters (2007 and 2008), when both buoys had a complete suite of meteorological data. In these two winter periods, the focus of this research is on three types of typical weather patterns referred to here as the northerly wind condition, the monsoon wind condition, and the normal condition. During the northerly wind condition, latent and sensible heat fluxes were large and often varied simultaneously at both sites, whereas during the monsoon wind condition the latent heat flux at the KEO site was significantly larger than that at the JKEO site. The difference between these heat flux patterns is attributed to the different airmass transformations that occur when prevailing winds blow across the KE front versus along the front. Reanalysis products appear to reproduce these heat flux spatial patterns at synoptic scales. It is suggested that the relative frequencies of these different types of weather conditions result in anomalous spatial patterns in the heat fluxes on monthly time scales.

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Haiming Xu, Hiroki Tokinaga, and Shang-Ping Xie

Abstract

In the summer of 2004, the Kuroshio took a large meander path south of Japan for the first time since 1991, and this large meander event persisted until the next summer. Satellite observations and numerical model simulations are used to study the effect of this large meander event on the atmosphere. The large meander leaves a cool water pool between the Kuroshio and Japanese coast. Sea surface temperature (SST) in the cool water pool is about 2°–3°C colder than the surroundings during winter and spring, whereas the SST signature substantially weakens in summer. A local reduction of wind speed is found over the cool water pool, and the positive SST–wind speed correlation is indicative of ocean forcing of the atmosphere. Cloud liquid water (CLW) content and precipitation also decrease over the cool SST pool.

A regional atmospheric model successfully simulates atmospheric response to the Kuroshio large meander. The model experiments suggest that the reduced surface wind speed and precipitation are due to the large meander-induced SST cooling. Analysis of the surface perturbation momentum budgets shows the importance of the pressure adjustment mechanism in surface wind response to the cold SST anomalies.

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Shoshiro Minobe, Masato Miyashita, Akira Kuwano-Yoshida, Hiroki Tokinaga, and Shang-Ping Xie

Abstract

The atmospheric response to the Gulf Stream front in sea surface temperature is investigated using high-resolution data from satellite observations and operational analysis and forecast. Two types of atmospheric response are observed with different seasonality and spatial distribution.

In winter, surface wind convergence is strong over the Gulf Stream proper between Cape Hatteras and the Great Banks, consistent with atmospheric pressure adjustments to sea surface temperature gradients. The surface convergence is accompanied by enhanced precipitation and the frequent occurrence of midlevel clouds. Local evaporation and precipitation are roughly in balance over the Florida Current and the western Gulf Stream proper. In summer, strong precipitation, enhanced high clouds, and increased lightning flash rate are observed over the Florida Current and the western Gulf Stream proper, without seasonal surface convergence enhancement. For the precipitation maximum over the Florida Current, local evaporation supplies about half of the water vapor, and additional moisture is transported from the south on the west flank of the North Atlantic subtropical high.

Atmospheric heating estimated by a Japanese reanalysis reveals distinct seasonal variations. In winter, a shallow-heating mode dominates the Gulf Stream proper, with strong sensible heating in the marine atmospheric boundary layer and latent heating in the lower troposphere. In summer, a deep-heating mode is pronounced over the Florida Current and the western Gulf Stream proper, characterized by latent heating in the middle and upper troposphere due to deep convection. Possible occurrences of these heating modes in other regions are discussed.

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