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Hyodae Seo

Abstract

During the southwest monsoons, the Arabian Sea (AS) develops highly energetic mesoscale variability associated with the Somali Current (SC), Great Whirl (GW), and cold filaments (CF). The resultant high-amplitude anomalies and gradients of sea surface temperature (SST) and surface currents modify the wind stress, triggering the so-called mesoscale coupled feedbacks. This study uses a high-resolution regional coupled model with a novel coupling procedure that separates spatial scales of the air–sea coupling to show that SST and surface currents are coupled to the atmosphere at distinct spatial scales, exerting distinct dynamic influences. The effect of mesoscale SST–wind interaction is manifested most strongly in wind work and Ekman pumping over the GW, primarily affecting the position of GW and the separation latitude of the SC. If this effect is suppressed, enhanced wind work and a weakened Ekman pumping dipole cause the GW to extend northeastward, delaying the SC separation by 1°. Current–wind interaction, in contrast, is related to the amount of wind energy input. When it is suppressed, especially as a result of background-scale currents, depth-integrated kinetic energy, both the mean and eddy, is significantly enhanced. Ekman pumping velocity over the GW is overly negative because of a lack of vorticity that offsets the wind stress curl, further invigorating the GW. Moreover, significant changes in time-mean SST and evaporation are generated in response to the current–wind interaction, accompanied by a noticeable southward shift in the Findlater Jet. The significant increase in moisture transport in the central AS implies that air–sea interaction mediated by the surface current is a potentially important process for simulation and prediction of the monsoon rainfall.

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Hyodae Seo, Arthur J. Miller, and Joel R. Norris

Abstract

The summertime California Current System (CCS) is characterized by energetic mesoscale eddies, whose sea surface temperature (SST) and surface current can significantly modify the wind stress and Ekman pumping. Relative importance of the eddy–wind interactions via SST and surface current in the CCS is examined using a high-resolution (7 km) regional coupled model with a novel coupling approach to isolate the small-scale air–sea coupling by SST and surface current. Results show that when the eddy-induced surface current is allowed to modify the wind stress, the spatially averaged surface eddy kinetic energy (EKE) is reduced by 42%, and this is primarily due to enhanced surface eddy drag and reduced wind energy transfer. In contrast, the eddy-induced SST–wind coupling has no significant impact on the EKE. Furthermore, eddy-induced SST and surface current modify the Ekman pumping via their crosswind SST gradient and surface vorticity gradient, respectively. The resultant magnitudes of the Ekman pumping velocity are comparable, but the implied feedback effects on the eddy statistics are different. The surface current-induced Ekman pumping mainly attenuates the amplitude of cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies, acting to reduce the eddy activity, while the SST-induced Ekman pumping primarily affects the propagation. Time mean–rectified change in SST is determined by the altered offshore temperature advection by the mean and eddy currents, but the magnitude of the mean SST change is greater with the eddy-induced current effect. The demonstrated remarkably strong dynamical response in the CCS system to the eddy-induced current–wind coupling indicates that eddy-induced current should play an important role in the regional coupled ocean–atmosphere system.

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Hyodae Seo, Arthur J. Miller, and John O. Roads

Abstract

A regional coupled ocean–atmosphere model is introduced. It is designed to admit the air–sea feedbacks arising in the presence of an oceanic mesoscale eddy field. It consists of the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) and the Regional Spectral Model (RSM). Large-scale forcing is provided by NCEP/DOE reanalysis fields, which have physics consistent with the RSM. Coupling allows the sea surface temperature (SST) to influence the stability of the atmospheric boundary layer and, hence, the surface wind stress and heat flux fields. The system is denominated the Scripps Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Regional (SCOAR) Model.

The model is tested in three scenarios in the eastern Pacific Ocean sector: tropical instability waves of the eastern tropical Pacific, mesoscale eddies and fronts of the California Current System, and gap winds of the Central American coast. Recent observational evidence suggests air–sea interactions involving the oceanic mesoscale in these three regions. Evolving SST fronts are shown to drive an unambiguous response of the atmospheric boundary layer in the coupled model. This results in significant model anomalies of wind stress curl, wind stress divergence, surface heat flux, and precipitation that resemble the observations and substantiate the importance of ocean–atmosphere feedbacks involving the oceanic mesoscale.

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Hyodae Seo, Young-Oh Kwon, Terrence M. Joyce, and Caroline C. Ummenhofer

Abstract

The North Atlantic atmospheric circulation response to the meridional shifts of the Gulf Stream (GS) path is examined using a large ensemble of high-resolution hemispheric-scale Weather Research and Forecasting Model simulations. The model is forced with a broad range of wintertime sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies derived from a lag regression on a GS index. The primary result of the model experiments, supported in part by an independent analysis of a reanalysis dataset, is that the large-scale quasi-steady North Atlantic circulation response is remarkably nonlinear about the sign and amplitude of the SST anomaly chosen over a wide range of GS shift scenarios. The nonlinear response prevails over the weak linear response and resembles the negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), the leading intrinsic mode of variability in the model and the observations. Further analysis of the associated dynamics reveals that the nonlinear responses are accompanied by the shift of the North Atlantic eddy-driven jet, which is reinforced, with nearly equal importance, by the high-frequency transient eddy feedback and the low-frequency wave-breaking events. Additional sensitivity simulations confirm that the nonlinearity of the circulation response is a robust feature found over the broad parameter space encompassing not only the varied SST but also the absence/presence of tropical influence, the varying lateral boundary conditions, and the initialization scheme. The result highlights the fundamental importance of the intrinsically nonlinear transient eddy dynamics and the eddy–mean flow interactions in generating the nonlinear downstream response to the meridional shifts in the Gulf Stream.

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Hyodae Seo, Markus Jochum, Raghu Murtugudde, Arthur J. Miller, and John O. Roads

Abstract

A regional coupled climate model is configured for the tropical Atlantic to explore the role of synoptic-scale African easterly waves (AEWs) on the simulation of mean precipitation in the marine intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ). Sensitivity tests with varying atmospheric resolution in the coupled model show that these easterly waves are well represented with comparable amplitudes on both fine and coarse grids of the atmospheric model. Significant differences in the model simulations are found in the precipitation fields, however, where heavy rainfall events occur in the region of strong cyclonic shear of the easterly waves only on the higher-resolution grid. This is because the low-level convergence due to the waves is much larger and more realistic in the fine-resolution simulation, which enables heavier precipitation events that skew the rainfall distributions toward longer tails. The variability in rainfall on these time scales accounts for more than 60%–70% of the total variability. As a result, the simulation of mean rainfall in the ITCZ and its seasonal migration improves in the higher-resolution case. This suggests that capturing these transient waves and the resultant strong low-level convergence is one of the key ingredients for improving the simulation of precipitation in global coupled climate models.

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Hyodae Seo, Aneesh C. Subramanian, Arthur J. Miller, and Nicholas R. Cavanaugh

Abstract

This study quantifies, from a systematic set of regional ocean–atmosphere coupled model simulations employing various coupling intervals, the effect of subdaily sea surface temperature (SST) variability on the onset and intensity of Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) convection in the Indian Ocean. The primary effect of diurnal SST variation (dSST) is to raise time-mean SST and latent heat flux (LH) prior to deep convection. Diurnal SST variation also strengthens the diurnal moistening of the troposphere by collocating the diurnal peak in LH with those of SST. Both effects enhance the convection such that the total precipitation amount scales quasi-linearly with preconvection dSST and time-mean SST. A column-integrated moist static energy (MSE) budget analysis confirms the critical role of diurnal SST variability in the buildup of column MSE and the strength of MJO convection via stronger time-mean LH and diurnal moistening. Two complementary atmosphere-only simulations further elucidate the role of SST conditions in the predictive skill of MJO. The atmospheric model forced with the persistent initial SST, lacking enhanced preconvection warming and moistening, produces a weaker and delayed convection than the diurnally coupled run. The atmospheric model with prescribed daily-mean SST from the coupled run, while eliminating the delayed peak, continues to exhibit weaker convection due to the lack of strong moistening on a diurnal basis. The fact that time-evolving SST with a diurnal cycle strongly influences the onset and intensity of MJO convection is consistent with previous studies that identified an improved representation of diurnal SST as a potential source of MJO predictability.

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Hyodae Seo, Markus Jochum, Raghu Murtugudde, Arthur J. Miller, and John O. Roads

Abstract

The effects of atmospheric feedbacks on tropical instability waves (TIWs) in the equatorial Atlantic Ocean are examined using a regional high-resolution coupled climate model. The analysis from a 6-yr hindcast from 1999 to 2004 reveals a negative correlation between TIW-induced wind perturbations and TIW-induced ocean currents, which implies damping of the TIWs. On the other hand, the feedback effect from the modification of Ekman pumping velocity by TIWs is small compared to the contribution to TIW growth by baroclinic instability. Overall, the atmosphere reduces the growth of TIWs by adjusting its wind response to the evolving TIWs. The analysis also shows that including ocean current (mean + TIWs) in the wind stress parameterization reduces the surface stress estimate by 15%–20% over the region of the South Equatorial Current. Moreover, TIW-induced perturbation ocean currents can significantly alter surface stress estimations from scatterometers, especially at TIW frequencies. Finally, the rectification effect from the atmospheric response to TIWs on latent heat flux is small compared to the mean latent heat flux.

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Hyodae Seo, Shang-Ping Xie, Raghu Murtugudde, Markus Jochum, and Arthur J. Miller

Abstract

Effects of freshwater forcing from river discharge into the Indian Ocean on oceanic vertical structure and the Indian monsoons are investigated using a fully coupled, high-resolution, regional climate model. The effect of river discharge is included in the model by restoring sea surface salinity (SSS) toward observations. The simulations with and without this effect in the coupled model reveal a highly seasonal influence of salinity and the barrier layer (BL) on oceanic vertical density stratification, which is in turn linked to changes in sea surface temperature (SST), surface winds, and precipitation.

During both boreal summer and winter, SSS relaxation leads to a more realistic spatial distribution of salinity and the BL in the model. In summer, the BL in the Bay of Bengal enhances the upper-ocean stratification and increases the SST near the river mouths where the freshwater forcing is largest. However, the warming is limited to the coastal ocean and the amplitude is not large enough to give a significant impact on monsoon rainfall.

The strengthened BL during boreal winter leads to a shallower mixed layer. Atmospheric heat flux forcing acting on a thin mixed layer results in an extensive reduction of SST over the northern Indian Ocean. Relatively suppressed mixing below the mixed layer warms the subsurface layer, leading to a temperature inversion. The cooling of the sea surface induces a large-scale adjustment in the winter atmosphere with amplified northeasterly winds. This impedes atmospheric convection north of the equator while facilitating it in the austral summer intertropical convergence zone, resulting in a hemispheric-asymmetric response pattern. Overall, the results suggest that freshwater forcing from the river discharges plays an important role during the boreal winter by affecting SST and the coupled ocean–atmosphere interaction, with potential impacts on the broadscale regional climate.

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Young-Oh Kwon, Hyodae Seo, Caroline C. Ummenhofer, and Terrence M. Joyce

Abstract

Recent studies have suggested that coherent multidecadal variability exists between North Atlantic atmospheric blocking frequency and the Atlantic multidecadal variability (AMV). However, the role of AMV in modulating blocking variability on multidecadal times scales is not fully understood. This study examines this issue primarily using the NOAA Twentieth Century Reanalysis for 1901–2010. The second mode of the empirical orthogonal function for winter (December–March) atmospheric blocking variability in the North Atlantic exhibits oppositely signed anomalies of blocking frequency over Greenland and the Azores. Furthermore, its principal component time series shows a dominant multidecadal variability lagging AMV by several years. Composite analyses show that this lag is due to the slow evolution of the AMV sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies, which is likely driven by the ocean circulation. Following the warm phase of AMV, the warm SST anomalies emerge in the western subpolar gyre over 3–7 years. The ocean–atmosphere interaction over these 3–7-yr periods is characterized by the damping of the warm SST anomalies by the surface heat flux anomalies, which in turn reduce the overall meridional gradient of the air temperature and thus weaken the meridional transient eddy heat flux in the lower troposphere. The anomalous transient eddy forcing then shifts the eddy-driven jet equatorward, resulting in enhanced Rossby wave breaking and blocking on the northern flank of the jet over Greenland. The opposite is true with the AMV cold phases but with much shorter lags, as the evolution of SST anomalies differs in the warm and cold phases.

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Hyodae Seo, Hajoon Song, Larry W. O’Neill, Matthew R. Mazloff, and Bruce D. Cornuelle

Abstract

This study examines the role of the relative wind (RW) effect (wind relative to ocean current) in the regional ocean circulation and extratropical storm track in the South Indian Ocean. Comparison of two high-resolution regional coupled model simulations with/without the RW effect reveals that the most conspicuous ocean circulation response is the significant weakening of the overly energetic anticyclonic standing eddy off Port Elizabeth, South Africa, a biased feature ascribed to upstream retroflection of the Agulhas Current (AC). This opens a pathway through which the AC transports the warm and salty water mass from the subtropics, yielding marked increases in sea surface temperature (SST), upward turbulent heat flux (THF), and meridional SST gradient in the Agulhas retroflection region. These thermodynamic and dynamic changes are accompanied by the robust strengthening of the local low-tropospheric baroclinicity and the baroclinic wave activity in the atmosphere. Examination of the composite lifecycle of synoptic-scale storms subjected to the high THF events indicates a robust strengthening of the extratropical storms far downstream. Energetics calculations for the atmosphere suggest that the baroclinic energy conversion from the basic flow is the chief source of increased eddy available potential energy, which is subsequently converted to eddy kinetic energy, providing for the growth of transient baroclinic waves. Overall, the results suggest that the mechanical and thermal air-sea interactions are inherently and inextricably linked together to substantially influence the extratropical storm tracks in the South Indian Ocean.

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