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ChuanLi Jiang
Sarah T. Gille
Janet Sprintall
Kei Yoshimura
, and
Masao Kanamitsu


High-resolution underway shipboard atmospheric and oceanic observations collected in Drake Passage from 2000 to 2009 are used to examine the spatial scales of turbulent heat fluxes and flux-related state variables. The magnitude of the seasonal cycle of sea surface temperature (SST) south of the Polar Front is found to be twice that north of the front, but the seasonal cycles of the turbulent heat fluxes show no differences on either side of the Polar Front. Frequency spectra of the turbulent heat fluxes and related variables are red, with no identifiable spectral peaks. SST and air temperature are coherent over a range of frequencies corresponding to periods between ~10 h and 2 days, with SST leading air temperature. The spatial decorrelation length scales of the sensible and latent heat fluxes calculated from two-day transects are 65 ± 6 km and 80 ± 6 km, respectively. The scale of the sensible heat flux is consistent with the decorrelation scale for air–sea temperature differences (70 ± 6 km) rather than either SST (153 ± 2 km) or air temperature (138 ± 4 km) alone. These scales are dominated by the Polar Front. When the Polar Front region is excluded, the decorrelation scales are 10–20 km, consistent with the first baroclinic Rossby radius.

These eddy scales are often unrepresented in the available gridded heat flux products. The Drake Passage ship measurements are compared with four recently available gridded turbulent heat flux products: the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts high-resolution operational product in support of the Year of Coordinated Observing Modeling and Forcasting Tropical Convection (ECMWF-YOTC), ECMWF interim reanalysis (ERA-Interim), the Drake Passage reanalysis downscaling (DPRD10) regional product, and the objectively analyzed air–sea fluxes (OAFlux). The decorrelation length scales of the air–sea temperature difference, wind speed, and turbulent heat fluxes from these four products are significantly larger than those determined from shipboard measurements.

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