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David S. Trossman, Lu Anne Thompson, Kathryn A. Kelly, and Young-Oh Kwon

Abstract

Lagrangian estimates for ventilation rates in the Gulf Stream Extension using Argo and World Ocean Circulation Experiment/Atlantic Climate and Circulation Experiment (WOCE/ACCE) float data, scatterometer (QuikSCAT) wind stress satellite observations, and altimetric [Archiving, Validation, and Interpretation of Satellite Oceanographic data (AVISO)] sea surface height (SSH) satellite observations from 2002 to 2006 are presented. Satellite winds and estimates of surface geostrophic currents allow the inclusion of the effects of currents on wind stress as well as their impact on the Ekman pumping. The presence of large surface geostrophic currents decreases the total Ekman pumping, contributing up to 20% where the Gulf Stream makes its two sharpest turns, and increases the total Ekman pumping by 10% or less everywhere else. The ageostrophic currents may be as large as 15% of the geostrophic currents, but only in proximity of the Gulf Stream.

Using currents and mixed layer depths (MLDs) that are either climatological or vary from year to year, obducted water tends to originate along the Gulf Stream, while subducted water tends to originate to its south. However, using time-varying MLDs for each year, subduction varies significantly, sometimes oppositely from obduction. The 18° Water (EDW) subducts in different locations and is distributed differently each year but tends to be located in the Sargasso Sea. Vertical pumping is the only dominant factor in ventilation closer to the coast where MLDs are shallower and lighter parcels are subducted. Vertical pumping contributes up to 20% of the several hundreds of ventilated meters per year around the Gulf Stream and less elsewhere. Using a temperature- or density-based criterion for estimating the MLDs, especially along the coasts and north of 45°N, obduction estimates differ by up to 25%. The horizontal and temporal structure of the MLDs is the primary factor that controls the tens of sverdrups of ventilation (and a few sverdrups of EDW subduction).

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Kathryn A. Kelly, R. Justin Small, R. M. Samelson, Bo Qiu, Terrence M. Joyce, Young-Oh Kwon, and Meghan F. Cronin

Abstract

In the Northern Hemisphere midlatitude western boundary current (WBC) systems there is a complex interaction between dynamics and thermodynamics and between atmosphere and ocean. Their potential contribution to the climate system motivated major parallel field programs in both the North Pacific [Kuroshio Extension System Study (KESS)] and the North Atlantic [Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) Mode Water Dynamics Experiment (CLIMODE)], and preliminary observations and analyses from these programs highlight that complexity. The Gulf Stream (GS) in the North Atlantic and the Kuroshio Extension (KE) in the North Pacific have broad similarities, as subtropical gyre WBCs, but they also have significant differences, which affect the regional air–sea exchange processes and their larger-scale interactions. The 15-yr satellite altimeter data record, which provides a rich source of information, is combined here with the longer historical record from in situ data to describe and compare the current systems. While many important similarities have been noted on the dynamic and thermodynamic aspects of the time-varying GS and KE, some not-so-subtle differences exist in current variability, mode water properties, and recirculation gyre structure. This paper provides a comprehensive comparison of these two current systems from both dynamical and thermodynamical perspectives with the goal of developing and evaluating hypotheses about the physics underlying the observed differences, and exploring the WBC’s potential to influence midlatitude sea–air interaction. Differences between the GS and KE systems offer opportunities to compare the dominant processes and thereby to advance understanding of their role in the climate system.

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Paul E. Ciesielski, Hungjui Yu, Richard H. Johnson, Kunio Yoneyama, Masaki Katsumata, Charles N. Long, Junhong Wang, Scot M. Loehrer, Kathryn Young, Steven F. Williams, William Brown, John Braun, and Teresa Van Hove

Abstract

The upper-air sounding network for Dynamics of the Madden–Julian Oscillation (DYNAMO) has provided an unprecedented set of observations for studying the MJO over the Indian Ocean, where coupling of this oscillation with deep convection first occurs. With 72 rawinsonde sites and dropsonde data from 13 aircraft missions, the sounding network covers the tropics from eastern Africa to the western Pacific. In total nearly 26 000 soundings were collected from this network during the experiment’s 6-month extended observing period (from October 2011 to March 2012). Slightly more than half of the soundings, collected from 33 sites, are at high vertical resolution. Rigorous post–field phase processing of the sonde data included several levels of quality checks and a variety of corrections that address a number of issues (e.g., daytime dry bias, baseline surface data errors, ship deck heating effects, and artificial dry spikes in slow-ascent soundings).

Because of the importance of an accurate description of the moisture field in meeting the scientific goals of the experiment, particular attention is given to humidity correction and its validation. The humidity corrections, though small relative to some previous field campaigns, produced high-fidelity moisture analyses in which sonde precipitable water compared well with independent estimates. An assessment of operational model moisture analyses using corrected sonde data shows an overall good agreement with the exception at upper levels, where model moisture and clouds are more abundant than the sonde data would indicate.

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Stephen A. Cohn, Terry Hock, Philippe Cocquerez, Junhong Wang, Florence Rabier, David Parsons, Patrick Harr, Chun-Chieh Wu, Philippe Drobinski, Fatima Karbou, Stéphanie Vénel, André Vargas, Nadia Fourrié, Nathalie Saint-Ramond, Vincent Guidard, Alexis Doerenbecher, Huang-Hsiung Hsu, Po-Hsiung Lin, Ming-Dah Chou, Jean-Luc Redelsperger, Charlie Martin, Jack Fox, Nick Potts, Kathryn Young, and Hal Cole

Constellations of driftsonde systems— gondolas floating in the stratosphere and able to release dropsondes upon command— have so far been used in three major field experiments from 2006 through 2010. With them, high-quality, high-resolution, in situ atmospheric profiles were made over extended periods in regions that are otherwise very difficult to observe. The measurements have unique value for verifying and evaluating numerical weather prediction models and global data assimilation systems; they can be a valuable resource to validate data from remote sensing instruments, especially on satellites, but also airborne or ground-based remote sensors. These applications for models and remote sensors result in a powerful combination for improving data assimilation systems. Driftsondes also can support process studies in otherwise difficult locations—for example, to study factors that control the development or decay of a tropical disturbance, or to investigate the lower boundary layer over the interior Antarctic continent. The driftsonde system is now a mature and robust observing system that can be combined with flight-level data to conduct multidisciplinary research at heights well above that reached by current research aircraft. In this article we describe the development and capabilities of the driftsonde system, the exemplary science resulting from its use to date, and some future applications.

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