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  • Climate Implications of Frontal Scale Air–Sea Interaction x
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Niklas Schneider and Bo Qiu

1. Introduction Satellite-borne observations of the atmospheric response to fronts of sea surface temperature (SST) have revolutionized the understanding of midlatitude air–sea interaction ( Xie 2004 ; Small et al. 2008 ). While the traditional, large-scale view holds that the ocean primarily responds to forcing by the atmosphere, the ocean mesoscale shows a ubiquitous imprint of SST fronts on the atmospheric boundary layer ( Chelton and Xie 2010 ; Xie 2004 ). For scales shorter than about

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Kohei Takatama and Niklas Schneider

). The experiments described here therefore explore the atmospheric response to ocean mesoscale forcing associated with ocean currents that directly affect only the surface stress and contrast these with the impact of gradients of temperature that affect atmospheric mixing, pressure gradients, and surface stresses. An estimation of the mechanical effect on surface winds is also of interest because widely used satellite scatterometers, such as QuikSCAT ( Liu 2002 ) and ASCAT ( Verspeek et al. 2010

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Larry W. O’Neill, Tracy Haack, Dudley B. Chelton, and Eric Skyllingstad

tropospheric response to the Gulf Stream SST front was hypothesized to be confined not just to the MABL but extending vertically into the free troposphere. In this theory, spatial SST variability drives surface wind convergence (i.e., the GSCZ), which is speculated to force upward motion directly through mass conservation or possibly indirectly by triggering deep convection. Earlier analytical work suggested that mass conservation coupled with the pressure response to SST drives Ekman pumping at the top of

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A. Foussard, G. Lapeyre, and R. Plougonven

downward momentum mixing (DMM) was proposed to explain the relation between the divergence of wind stress and downwind SST gradients (e.g., Chelton et al. 2001 ; O’Neill et al. 2003 ). Another mechanism that is considered in the literature is related to surface pressure variations induced by SST structures. It was initially proposed as an important source of coupling at tropical latitudes ( Lindzen and Nigam 1987 ), and more recently as an important forcing for surface wind convergence over

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