Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 3 of 3 items for :

  • Author or Editor: Michael G. Schlax x
  • Journal of Physical Oceanography x
  • Refine by Access: Content accessible to me x
Clear All Modify Search
Dudley B. Chelton
,
Michael G. Schlax
, and
Roger M. Samelson

Abstract

Satellite observations of wind stress and sea surface temperature (SST) are analyzed to investigate ocean–atmosphere interaction in the California Current System (CCS). As in regions of strong SST fronts elsewhere in the World Ocean, SST in the CCS region is positively correlated with surface wind stress when SST fronts are strong, which occurs during the summertime in the CCS region. This ocean influence on the atmosphere is apparently due to SST modification of stability and mixing in the atmospheric boundary layer and is most clearly manifest in the derivative wind stress fields: wind stress curl and divergence are linearly related to, respectively, the crosswind and downwind components of the local SST gradient. The dynamic range of the Ekman upwelling velocities associated with the summertime SST-induced perturbations of the wind stress curl is larger than that of the upwelling velocities associated with the mean summertime wind stress curl. This suggests significant feedback effects on the ocean, which likely modify the SST distribution that perturbed the wind stress curl field. The atmosphere and ocean off the west coast of North America must therefore be considered a fully coupled system. It is shown that the observed summertime ocean–atmosphere interaction is poorly represented in the NOAA North American Mesoscale Model (formerly called the Eta Model). This is due, at least in part, to the poor resolution and accuracy of the SST boundary condition used in the model. The sparse distribution of meteorological observations available over the CCS for data assimilation may also contribute to the poor model performance.

Full access
Dudley B. Chelton
,
Roland A. deSzoeke
,
Michael G. Schlax
,
Karim El Naggar
, and
Nicolas Siwertz

Abstract

Global 1° × 1° climatologies of the first baroclinic gravity-wave phase speed c 1 and the Rossby radius of deformation λ 1 are computed from climatological average temperature and salinity profiles. These new atlases are compared with previously published 5° × 5° coarse resolution maps of λ 1 for the Northern Hemisphere and the South Atlantic and with a 1° × 1° fine-resolution map of c 1 for the tropical Pacific. It is concluded that the methods used in these earlier estimates yield values that are biased systematically low by 5%–15% owing to seemingly minor computational errors. Geographical variations in the new high-resolution maps of c 1 and λ 1 are discussed in terms of a WKB approximation that elucidates the effects of earth rotation, stratification, and water depth on these quantities. It is shown that the effects of temporal variations of the stratification can be neglected in the estimation of c 1 and λ 1 at any particular location in the World Ocean. This is rationalized from consideration of the WKB approximation.

Full access
Peter Gaube
,
Dudley B. Chelton
,
Roger M. Samelson
,
Michael G. Schlax
, and
Larry W. O’Neill

Abstract

Three mechanisms for self-induced Ekman pumping in the interiors of mesoscale ocean eddies are investigated. The first arises from the surface stress that occurs because of differences between surface wind and ocean velocities, resulting in Ekman upwelling and downwelling in the cores of anticyclones and cyclones, respectively. The second mechanism arises from the interaction of the surface stress with the surface current vorticity gradient, resulting in dipoles of Ekman upwelling and downwelling. The third mechanism arises from eddy-induced spatial variability of sea surface temperature (SST), which generates a curl of the stress and therefore Ekman pumping in regions of crosswind SST gradients. The spatial structures and relative magnitudes of the three contributions to eddy-induced Ekman pumping are investigated by collocating satellite-based measurements of SST, geostrophic velocity, and surface winds to the interiors of eddies identified from their sea surface height signatures. On average, eddy-induced Ekman pumping velocities approach O(10) cm day−1. SST-induced Ekman pumping is usually secondary to the two current-induced mechanisms for Ekman pumping. Notable exceptions are the midlatitude extensions of western boundary currents and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, where SST gradients are strong and all three mechanisms for eddy-induced Ekman pumping are comparable in magnitude. Because the polarity of current-induced curl of the surface stress opposes that of the eddy, the associated Ekman pumping attenuates the eddies. The decay time scale of this attenuation is proportional to the vertical scale of the eddy and inversely proportional to the wind speed. For typical values of these parameters, the decay time scale is about 1.3 yr.

Full access