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Ian A. Renfrew, G. W. K. Moore, Peter S. Guest, and Karl Bumke

Abstract

Comparisons are made between a time series of meteorological surface layer observational data taken on board the R/V Knorr, and model analysis data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). The observational data were gathered during a winter cruise of the R/V Knorr, from 6 February to 13 March 1997, as part of the Labrador Sea Deep Convection Experiment. The surface layer observations generally compare well with both model representations of the wintertime atmosphere. The biases that exist are mainly related to discrepancies in the sea surface temperature or the relative humidity of the analyses.

The surface layer observations are used to generate bulk estimates of the surface momentum flux, and the surface sensible and latent heat fluxes. These are then compared with the model-generated turbulent surface fluxes. The ECMWF surface sensible and latent heat flux time series compare reasonably well, with overestimates of only 13% and 10%, respectively. In contrast, the NCEP model overestimates the bulk fluxes by 51% and 27%, respectively. The differences between the bulk estimates and those of the two models are due to different surface heat flux algorithms. It is shown that the roughness length formula used in the NCEP reanalysis project is inappropriate for moderate to high wind speeds. Its failings are acute for situations of large air–sea temperature difference and high wind speed, that is, for areas of high sensible heat fluxes such as the Labrador Sea, the Norwegian Sea, the Gulf Stream, and the Kuroshio. The new operational NCEP bulk algorithm is found to be more appropriate for such areas.

It is concluded that surface turbulent flux fields from the ECMWF are within the bounds of observational uncertainty and therefore suitable for driving ocean models. This is in contrast to the surface flux fields from the NCEP reanalysis project, where the application of a more suitable algorithm to the model surface-layer meteorological data is recommended.

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Robert S. Pickart, Alison M. Macdonald, G. W. K. Moore, Ian A. Renfrew, John E. Walsh, and William S. Kessler

Abstract

The seasonal change in the development of Aleutian low pressure systems from early fall to early winter is analyzed using a combination of meteorological reanalysis fields, satellite sea surface temperature (SST) data, and satellite wind data. The time period of the study is September–December 2002, although results are shown to be representative of the long-term climatology. Characteristics of the storms were documented as they progressed across the North Pacific, including their path, central pressure, deepening rate, and speed of translation. Clear patterns emerged. Storms tended to deepen in two distinct geographical locations—the Gulf of Alaska in early fall and the western North Pacific in late fall. In the Gulf of Alaska, a quasi-permanent “notch” in the SST distribution is argued to be of significance. The signature of the notch is imprinted in the atmosphere, resulting in a region of enhanced cyclonic potential vorticity in the lower troposphere that is conducive for storm development. Later in the season, as winter approaches and the Sea of Okhotsk becomes partially ice covered and cold, the air emanating from the Asian continent leads to enhanced baroclinicity in the region south of Kamchatka. This corresponds to enhanced storm cyclogenesis in that region. Consequently, there is a seasonal westward migration of the dominant lobe of the Aleutian low. The impact of the wind stress curl pattern resulting from these two regions of storm development on the oceanic circulation is investigated using historical hydrography. It is argued that the seasonal bimodal input of cyclonic vorticity from the wind may be partly responsible for the two distinct North Pacific subarctic gyres.

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