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Bunmei Taguchi and Niklas Schneider

Abstract

Upper ocean heat content (OHC) is at the heart of natural climate variability on interannual-to-decadal time scales, providing climate memory and the source of decadal prediction skill. In the midlatitude North Pacific Ocean, OHC signals are often found to propagate eastward as opposed to the frequently observed westward propagation of sea surface height, another variable that represents the ocean subsurface state. This dichotomy is investigated using a 150-yr coupled GCM integration. Simulated OHC signals are distinguished in terms of two processes that can support eastward propagation: higher baroclinic Rossby wave (RW) modes that are associated with density perturbation, and spiciness anomalies due to density-compensated temperature and salinity anomalies. The analysis herein suggests a unique role of the Kuroshio–Oyashio Extension (KOE) region as an origin of the spiciness and higher mode RW signals. Wind-forced, westward-propagating equivalent barotropic RWs cause meridional shifts of the subarctic front in the KOE region. The associated anomalous circulation crosses mean temperature and salinity gradients and thereby generates spiciness anomalies. These anomalies are advected eastward by the mean currents, while the associated surface temperature anomalies are damped by air–sea heat exchange. The accompanying surface buoyancy flux generates higher baroclinic, eastward-propagating RWs. The results suggest that the large OHC variability in the western boundary currents and their extensions is associated with the spiciness gradients and axial variability of oceanic fronts.

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Akira Kuwano-Yoshida, Bunmei Taguchi, and Shang-Ping Xie

Abstract

The baiu rainband is a summer rainband stretching from eastern China through Japan toward the northwestern Pacific. The climatological termination of the baiu rainband is investigated using the Japanese 25-yr Reanalysis (JRA-25), a stand-alone atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) forced with observed sea surface temperature (SST) and an atmosphere–ocean GCM (AOGCM). The baiu rainband over the North Pacific abruptly shifts northward and weakens substantially in early July in the atmospheric GCM (AGCM), too early compared to observations (late July). The midtroposphere westerly jet and its thermal advection explain this meridional shift of the baiu rainband, but the ocean surface evaporation modulates the precipitation intensity. In AGCM, deep convection in the subtropical northwestern Pacific sets in prematurely, displacing the westerly jet northward over the cold ocean surface earlier than in observations. The suppressed surface evaporation over the cold ocean suppresses precipitation even though the midtropospheric warm advection and vertically integrated moisture convergence are similar to those before the westerly jet's northward shift. As a result, the baiu rainband abruptly weakens after the northward shift in JRA-25 and AGCM. In AOGCM, cold SST biases in the subtropics inhibit deep convection, delaying the poleward excursion of the westerly jet. As a result, the upward motion induced by both the strong westerly jet and the rainband persist over the northwestern Pacific through summer in the AOGCM. The results indicate that the westerly jet and the ocean evaporation underneath are important for the baiu rainband, the latter suggesting an oceanic effect on this important phenomenon.

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Hideharu Sasaki, Bunmei Taguchi, Nobumasa Komori, and Yukio Masumoto

Abstract

Local air–sea interactions over the high sea surface temperature (SST) band along the Hawaiian Lee Countercurrent (HLCC) are examined with a focus on dynamical feedback of SST-induced wind stress to the ocean using the atmosphere–ocean coupled general circulation model (CGCM). A pair of ensemble CGCM simulations are compared to extract the air–sea interactions associated with HLCC: the control simulations and other simulations, the latter purposely eliminating influences of the high SST band on the sea surface flux computations in the CGCM. The comparison reveals that oceanic response to surface wind convergence and positive wind stress curl induced by the high SST band increases (decreases) the HLCC speed in the southern (northern) flank of the HLCC. The HLCC speed changes are driven by the Ekman suction associated with positive wind stress curl over the warm HLCC via the thermal wind balance. The HLCC speed increase is more significant than its decrease. This dynamical feedback is likely to be important to sustain the extension of the HLCC far to the west. The heat budget analysis confirms that advection of warm water from the west associated with this significant current speed increase plays a role in the southward shift of the HLCC axis. The dynamical feedback with the HLCC speed increase can potentially amplify the seasonal and interannual variations of HLCC.

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Bunmei Taguchi, Hisashi Nakamura, Masami Nonaka, and Shang-Ping Xie

Abstract

Influences of oceanic fronts in the Kuroshio and Oyashio Extension (KOE) region on the overlying atmosphere are investigated by comparing a pair of atmospheric regional model hindcast experiments for the 2003/04 cold season, one with the observed finescale frontal structures in sea surface temperature (SST) prescribed at the model lower boundary and the other with an artificially smoothed SST distribution. The comparison reveals the locally enhanced meridional gradient of turbulent fluxes of heat and moisture and surface air temperature (SAT) across the oceanic frontal zone, which favors the storm-track development both in winter and spring. Distinct seasonal dependency is found, however, in how dominantly the storm-track activity influences the time-mean distribution of the heat and moisture supply from the ocean.

In spring the mean surface sensible heat flux (SHF) is upward (downward) on the warmer (cooler) side of the subarctic SST front. This sharp cross-frontal contrast is a manifestation of intermittent heat release (cooling) induced by cool northerlies (warm southerlies) on the warmer (cooler) side of the front in association with migratory cyclones and anticyclones. The oceanic frontal zone is thus marked as both the largest variability in SHF and the cross-frontal sign reversal of the SHF skewness. The cross-frontal SHF contrasts in air–sea heat exchanges counteract poleward heat transport by those atmospheric eddies, to restore the sharp meridional gradient of SAT effectively for the recurrent development of atmospheric disturbances. Lacking this oceanic baroclinic adjustment associated with the SST front, the experiment with the smoothed SST distribution underestimates storm-track activity in the KOE region.

In winter the prevailing cold, dry continental airflow associated with the Asian winter monsoon induces a large amount of heat and moisture release even from the cooler ocean to the north of the frontal zone. The persistent advective effects of the monsoonal wind weaken the SAT gradient and smear out the sign reversal of the SHF skewness, leading to weaker influences of the oceanic fronts on the atmosphere in winter than in spring.

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Bunmei Taguchi, Shang-Ping Xie, Humio Mitsudera, and Atsushi Kubokawa

Abstract

The response of the Kuroshio Extension (KE) to large-scale Rossby waves remotely excited by wind stress changes associated with the 1970s climate regime shift is studied using a high-resolution regional ocean model. Two ensemble simulations are conducted: The control run uses monthly climatological forcing while, in the second ensemble, anomalous forcing is imposed at the model eastern boundary around 165°E derived from a hindcast of decadal changes in subsurface temperature and salinity using a coarser-resolution model of the Pacific basin.

Near the KE, ocean adjustment deviates strongly from the linear Rossby wave dynamics. Most notably, the eastward acceleration of the KE is much narrower in meridional extent than that associated with the incoming Rossby waves imposed on the eastern boundary. This KE acceleration is associated with an enhanced potential vorticity (PV) gradient across the front that is consistent with the inertial western boundary layer theory: the arrival of the Rossby waves at the western boundary causes the eastward current to accelerate, leading to enhanced advection of low (high) PV water of subtropical (subarctic) origin along the western boundary layer. The meridional dipole of PV anomalies results in a pair of anomalous recirculations with a narrow eastward jet in between. A three-layer quasigeostrophic model is used to demonstrate this inertial adjustment mechanism. Finally, transient eddy activity increases significantly and the eddy momentum transport acts to strengthen the mean flow response. The result that ocean physical response to broad-scale atmospheric forcing is large near the KE front has important implications for fisheries research.

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Humio Mitsudera, Bunmei Taguchi, Takuji Waseda, and Yasushi Yoshikawa

Abstract

This paper discusses the role of the Izu Ridge in blocking the Kuroshio large meander from propagating eastward across the ridge. It is shown that a combination of the sloping bottom with baroclinicity in the Kuroshio flow is important for blocking of the large meander. It produces a cyclonic torque over the western slope of the ridge when the large meander impinges upon it. That is, the cyclonic torque is formed ahead of the large meander, which results in blocking and amplification of the meander upstream of the Izu Ridge. The baroclinicity of the Kuroshio over the ridge is caused by baroclinic topographic Rossby waves generated when the large meander encounters the ridge.

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Bunmei Taguchi, Niklas Schneider, Masami Nonaka, and Hideharu Sasaki

Abstract

Generation and propagation processes of upper-ocean heat content (OHC) in the North Pacific are investigated using oceanic subsurface observations and an eddy-resolving ocean general circulation model hindcast simulation. OHC anomalies are decomposed into physically distinct dynamical components (OHCρ) due to temperature anomalies that are associated with density anomalies and spiciness components (OHCχ) due to temperature anomalies that are density compensating with salinity. Analysis of the observational and model data consistently shows that both dynamical and spiciness components contribute to interannual–decadal OHC variability, with the former (latter) component dominating in the subtropical (subpolar) North Pacific. OHCρ variability represents heaving of thermocline, propagates westward, and intensifies along the Kuroshio Extension, consistent with jet-trapped Rossby waves, while OHCχ variability propagates eastward along the subarctic frontal zone, suggesting advection by mean eastward currents. OHCχ variability tightly corresponds in space to horizontal mean spiciness gradients. Meanwhile, area-averaged OHCχ anomalies in the western subarctic frontal zone closely correspond in time to meridional shifts of the subarctic frontal zone. Regression coefficient of the OHCχ time series on the frontal displacement anomalies quantitatively agree with the area-averaged mean spiciness gradient in the region, and suggest that OHCχ is generated via frontal variability in the subarctic frontal zone.

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Bo Qiu, Shuiming Chen, Niklas Schneider, and Bunmei Taguchi

Abstract

Being the extension of a wind-driven western boundary current, the Kuroshio Extension (KE) has long been recognized as a turbulent current system rich in large-amplitude meanders and energetic pinched-off eddies. An important feature emerging from recent satellite altimeter measurements and eddy-resolving ocean model simulations is that the KE system exhibits well-defined decadal modulations between a stable and an unstable dynamic state. Here the authors show that the decadally modulating KE dynamic state can be effectively defined by the sea surface height (SSH) anomalies in the 31°–36°N, 140°–165°E region. By utilizing the SSH-based KE index from 1977 to 2012, they demonstrate that the time-varying KE dynamic state can be predicted at lead times of up to ~6 yr. This long-term predictability rests on two dynamic processes: 1) the oceanic adjustment is via baroclinic Rossby waves that carry interior wind-forced anomalies westward into the KE region and 2) the low-frequency KE variability influences the extratropical storm tracks and surface wind stress curl field across the North Pacific basin. By shifting poleward (equatorward) the storm tracks and the large-scale wind stress curl pattern during its stable (unstable) dynamic state, the KE variability induces a delayed negative feedback that can enhance the predictable SSH variance on the decadal time scales.

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Ryusuke Masunaga, Hisashi Nakamura, Bunmei Taguchi, and Takafumi Miyasaka

ABSTRACT

High-resolution satellite observations and numerical experiments have revealed local enhancement of time-mean surface wind convergence along the axes of warm western boundary currents and divergence slightly poleward. A recent study has suggested that frequent occurrence of persistent atmospheric fronts and sea level pressure (SLP) troughs along a sea surface temperature (SST) front are responsible for shaping the frontal-scale wind convergence and divergence contrast as seen in the wintertime climatology near the Kuroshio Extension (KE). These events tend to induce surface wind convergence with moderate magnitude. Through atmospheric reanalysis with high-resolution SST, the present study reveals that, as in the vicinity of the KE, surface wind convergence with moderate magnitude and divergence with moderate-to-extreme magnitude are found to play a primary role in shaping the climatological-mean wind convergence–divergence contrasts across the SST fronts near the Gulf Stream (GS) and Agulhas Return Current (ARC) in winter. In contrast, strong-to-extreme convergence events associated with synoptic-scale atmospheric disturbances are found to yield horizontally uniform time-mean wind convergence. Furthermore, cluster analysis and case studies suggest that persistent atmospheric fronts and SLP troughs are responsible for inducing moderate wind convergence also near the GS and ARC. Thus, these features are consistent with their counterpart near the KE, but the impacts of the ARC tend to be substantially weaker, probably due to its cooler SST among other potential factors.

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Ryusuke Masunaga, Hisashi Nakamura, Bunmei Taguchi, and Takafumi Miyasaka

Abstract

High-resolution satellite observations and numerical simulations have revealed that climatological-mean surface wind convergence and precipitation are enhanced locally around the midlatitude warm western boundary currents (WBCs) with divergence slightly to their poleward side. While steep sea surface temperature (SST) fronts along the WBCs have been believed to play an important role in shaping those frontal-scale atmospheric structures, the mechanisms and processes involved are still under debate. The present study explores specific daily scale atmospheric processes that are essential for shaping the frontal-scale atmospheric structure around the Kuroshio Extension (KE) in winter, taking advantage of a new product of global atmospheric reanalysis. Cluster analysis and case studies reveal that a zonally extending narrow band of surface wind convergence frequently emerges along the KE, which is typically observed under the surface northerlies after the passage of a developed synoptic-scale cyclone. Unlike its counterpart around the cyclone center and associated cold front, the surface convergence tends to be in moderate strength and more persistent, contributing dominantly to the distinct time-mean convergence/divergence contrast across the SST front. Accompanying ascent and convective precipitation, the band of convergence is a manifestation of a weak stationary atmospheric front anchored along the SST front or generation of a weak meso-α-scale cyclone. By reinforcing the ascent and convergence, latent heating through convective processes induced by surface convergence plays an important role in shaping the frontal-scale atmospheric structure around the KE.

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