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  • Author or Editor: Hans-Jörg Isemer x
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Claus W. Böning
Ralf Döscher
, and
Hans-Jörg Isemer


The monthly mean wind stress climatology of Hellerman and Rosenstein (HR) is compared with the climatology of Isemer and Hasse (IH), which represents a version of the Bunker atlas (BU) for the North Atlantic based on revised parameterizations. The drag coefficients adopted by IH are 21% smaller than the values of BU and HR, and the calculation of wind speed from marine estimates of Beaufort force (Bft) is based on a revised Beaufort equivalent scale similar to the scientific scale recommended by WMO. The latter choice significantly increases wind speed below Bft 8, and effectively counteracts the reduction of the drag coefficients.

Comparing the IH stresses with HR reveals substantially enhanced magnitudes in the trade wind region throughout the year. At 15°N the mean easterly stress increases from about 0.9 (HR) to about 1.2 dyn cm−1 (IH). Annual mean differences are smaller in the region of the westerlies. In winter, the effect due to the reduced drag coefficient dominates and leads to smaller stress values in IH; during summer season the revision of the Beaufort equivalents is more effective and leads to increased stresses.

Implications of the different wind stress climatologies for forcing the large-scale ocean circulation are discussed by means of the Sverdrup transport streamfunction (ψ s ): Throughout the subtropical gyre a significant intensification of ψ s takes place with IH. At 27°N, differences of more than 10 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) are found near the western boundary. Differences in the seasonality of ψ s are more pronounced in near-equatorial regions where IH increase the amplitude of the annual cycle by about 50%. An eddy-resolving model of the North Atlantic circulation is used to examine the effect of the different wind stresses on the seasonal cycle of the Florida Current. The transport predicted by the numerical model is in much better agreement with observations when the circulation is forced by IH than by HR, regarding both the annual mean (29.1 Sv vs 23.2 Sv) and the seasonal range (6.3 Sv vs 3.4 Sv).

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