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Youichi Tanimoto, Kou Shimoyama, and Shoichi Mori

Abstract

This paper describes a new initiative in which in situ observations of the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL) are made by a helicopter shuttle connecting six islands south of Tokyo. This observation method aims to make frequent measurements of temperature and moisture in the MABL across an ocean front, where direct measurements of the MABL have been limited. An onboard observation system to meet flight regulations was developed. Observed temperature and moisture as a function of pressure at 1-s intervals provided vertical profiles up to the 900-hPa level above each of the islands, from 24 December 2010 to 6 April 2011, with the exception of an accidental power down in mid-February 2011. The observed values are validated by intercomparison with surface measurements from weather stations, atmospheric soundings, and mesoscale weather analysis provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency. Temperature and moisture values obtained using the system described here at the surface are significantly correlated with those from the weather station. The meridional changes revealed by the observed vertical profiles depict rich MABL structures, such as a cold-air intrusion and a strong near-surface inversion, that are not captured by the mesoscale weather analysis. However, this discrepancy is probably due to insufficient treatment in the mesoscale numerical model rather than observational errors. Additional intercomparisons indicate no influence from either artificial mixing by the helicopter rotor or by dynamic pressure caused by the fast-moving helicopter when obtaining the vertical profiles. Following these validations, the continuation of the initiative will allow for examining the influence of the ocean front on the overlying MABL on a synoptic time scale.

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Hiroki Tokinaga, Youichi Tanimoto, and Shang-Ping Xie

Abstract

The confluence of the Brazil–Malvinas Currents maintains strong sea surface temperature (SST) fronts in the midlatitude southwestern Atlantic year-round. SST effects on near-surface stability and surface wind variations are examined in this region using satellite and in situ datasets. Satellite observations show strong (weak) surface wind speeds over the warm Brazil (cold Malvinas) Current. A novel feature of this study is the construction of a high-resolution surface meteorological dataset that is based on historical ship observations. Analysis of this new in situ dataset reveals an increased (reduced) sea–air temperature difference over the Brazil (Malvinas) Current, indicating destabilization (stabilization) in the atmospheric boundary layer. These results are consistent with the SST-induced vertical mixing mechanism for wind adjustment. The SST effect on the near-surface atmosphere is observed both in the climatology and on interannual time scales in the Brazil–Malvinas confluence. Along a zonal SST front at 49°S northeast of the Malvinas/Falkland Islands, there is a collocated line of surface wind divergence, with moderate convergence to the north. Vertical mixing does not explain this divergence pattern because the prevailing surface winds are westerly, blowing in parallel with the front. An additional mechanism is proposed for boundary layer wind adjustment.

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Youichi Tanimoto, Kimio Hanawa, Yoshiaki Toba, and Naoto Iwasaka

Abstract

Temporal evolution and spectral structure of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the North Pacific over the last 37 years are investigated on the three characteristic time scales: shorter than 24 months (HF), 24–60 months (ES), and longer than 60 months (DC). The leading empirical-orthogonal function (EOF) for the DC time scale is characterized by a zonally elongated monopole centered at around 40°N, 180°. The leading EOF for the HF time scale is somewhat similar to that for the DC time scale, although there are two centers of action with the same polarity at the mid and western Pacific. The leading EOF for the ES time scale, however, exhibits a different pattern whose center of action at the mid Pacific is located farther southeastward.

In the time evolution of the SST anomalies associated with the leading EOF of the DC time scale, several anomaly periods can be identified that last five years or longer. The transition from a persistent period to another with the opposite polarity is generally very brief, except for the one that lasts throughout the late 1960s.

The EOF analysis was repeated separately on these persistent anomaly periods and the long transition period. The spatial structure of the leading EOF of the SST variability with the ES time scale is found to be sensitive to the polarity of the decadal anomaly. These results are suggestive of the possible influence of the decadal SST variability upon the spatial structure of the variability with shorter time scales.

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Kunihiro Aoki, Shoshiro Minobe, Youichi Tanimoto, and Yoshikazu Sasai

Abstract

The present study investigates meridional heat transport induced by oceanic mesoscale variability in the World Ocean using a ° global ocean general circulation model (OGCM) running on the Earth Simulator. The results indicate prominent poleward eddy heat transport around the western boundary currents and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, and equatorward eddy heat transport in the equatorial region, consistent with the previous studies using coarse-resolution OGCMs. Such poleward eddy heat transport in midlatitude oceans suggests that the eddies act to reduce meridional background temperature gradients across the currents, as would be expected based on baroclinic instability. Interestingly, however, along the southern flanks of the eastward jets of the Kuroshio Extension and the Gulf Stream, southward eddy heat transport occurs in subsurface layers. This is likely due to the southward migration of warm water cores originating from southern areas adjacent to these currents. Southward movement of these cores is caused by interactions with unsteady meanders and cold eddies detaching from the meanders. The potential impact on biological production in the subtropical surface layers of these southward-traveling warm water cores is also discussed.

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Ryusuke Masunaga, Hisashi Nakamura, Takafumi Miyasaka, Kazuaki Nishii, and Youichi Tanimoto

Abstract

Mesoscale structures of the wintertime marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL) as climatological imprints of oceanic fronts within the Kuroshio–Oyashio Extension (KOE) region east of Japan are investigated by taking advantage of high horizontal resolution of the ERA-Interim global atmospheric reanalysis data, for which the resolution of sea surface temperature (SST) data has been improved. These imprints, including locally enhanced sensible and latent heat fluxes and local maxima in cloudiness and precipitation in association with locally strengthened surface-wind convergence in the vicinities of SST fronts along the warm Kuroshio Extension and cool Oyashio to its north, are also identified in high-resolution satellite data. In addition to these mesoscale MABL features, meridionally confined near-surface baroclinic zones and zonally oriented sea level pressure (SLP) minima associated with the dual SST fronts are represented in ERA-Interim only in the period of high-resolution SST, but those imprints of the Oyashio front are missing in the low-resolution SST period. In the presence of the prevailing monsoonal northerlies, latitudinal displacements of the SLP trough, baroclinic zone, and the peak meridional gradient of the turbulent heat fluxes from each of the corresponding SST fronts are also found to be sensitive to the frontal width that depends on the SST resolution. The analysis herein suggests that the converging surface northerlies into the SLP minima can contribute positively to the formation of a surface baroclinic zone along the Kuroshio Extension, while a stronger baroclinic zone along the Oyashio front is maintained primarily through the pronounced cross-frontal contrast in sensible heat release from the ocean.

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Masami Nonaka, Hisashi Nakamura, Youichi Tanimoto, Takashi Kagimoto, and Hideharu Sasaki

Abstract

Output of an eddy-resolving OGCM simulation is used to investigate mechanisms for interannual-to-decadal variability in the Oyashio and its influence on the subarctic frontal zone in the western North Pacific. Lag correlation analysis reveals that positive anomalies both in basin-scale wind stress curl and in local Ekman pumping can intensify the southward Oyashio almost simultaneously via barotropic and baroclinic Rossby wave propagations, respectively. The Oyashio strength can also be influenced by anomalous Ekman pumping that is exerted in the western portion of the basin through the baroclinic wave propagation with the lag of 3 yr, which appears to arise from a periodicity in the wind field. The intensification of the Oyashio is accompanied by negative anomalies both in the sea surface temperature and height off of Hokkaido Island of Japan and is followed by their eastward development along the southern branch of the Oyashio Extension and associated subarctic frontal zone in association with a southward displacement of their axes. These changes are associated with cool sea surface temperature anomalies and low potential vorticity anomalies at the thermocline level in the frontal zone. The surface cooling, thus induced in the frontal zone by those oceanic processes, accompanies anomalous downward surface heat fluxes, indicative of ocean-to-atmosphere feedback forcing associated with the Oyashio variations.

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Masami Nonaka, Hisashi Nakamura, Youichi Tanimoto, Takashi Kagimoto, and Hideharu Sasaki

Abstract

Through analysis of a hindcast integration of an eddy-resolving quasi-global ocean general circulation model, decadal variability in the Kuroshio–Oyashio Extension region is investigated, with particular emphasis on that of the subarctic (Oyashio) and the Kuroshio Extension (KE) fronts. The KE front is deep and is accompanied by a sharp sea surface height (SSH) gradient with modest sea surface temperature (SST) gradient. In contrast, the subarctic front is shallow and is recognized as a zone of tight gradient in SST but not SSH.

As a decadal-scale change from a warm period around 1970 to a cool period in the mid-1980s, those fronts in the model migrate southward as observed, and the associated pronounced cooling is confined mainly to those frontal zones. Reflecting the distinctive vertical structure of the fronts, the mixed layer cooling is the strongest along the subarctic front, whereas the subsurface cooling and the associated salinity changes are most pronounced along the KE front. Concomitantly with their southward migration, the two fronts have undergone decadal-scale intensification. Associated with reduced heat release into the atmosphere, the cooling in the frontal zones can be attributed neither to the direct atmospheric thermal forcing nor to the advective effect of the intensified KE, while the advective effect by the intense Oyashio can contribute to the cooling in the subarctic frontal zone.

In fact, their time evolution is not found to be completely coherent, suggesting that their variability may be governed by different mechanisms. Decadal SSH variability in the KE frontal zone seems to be largely explained by propagation of baroclinic Rossby waves forced by anomalous Ekman pumping in the central North Pacific. This process alone cannot fully explain the corresponding variability in the subarctic frontal zone, where eastward propagating SSH anomalies off the Japanese coast seem to be superimposed on the Rossby wave signals.

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Youichi Tanimoto, Tomohisa Kanenari, Hiroki Tokinaga, and Shang-Ping Xie

Abstract

Atmospheric effects of sea surface temperature (SST) fronts along the Kuroshio and Kuroshio Extension (K-KE) are investigated by examining spatial characteristics of the climatological sea level pressure (SLP), surface winds and surface heat flux (Q) fields based on an in situ observation dataset. A hydrostatic effect of the SST front is observed during the northwesterly monsoon characterized by a westward-extending low-SLP wedge (trough) slightly south of the peak in Q along the K-KE. Ageostrophic surface westerlies crossing SLP isobars toward a trough center are found north of the low-SLP wedge apparently because of the eastward acceleration by the vertical mixing effect. This feature of the ageostrophic winds is less pronounced south of it, a north–south asymmetry arising as vertical mixing accelerates (decelerates) eastward ageostrophic winds north (south) of it. While the SLP trough near the SST front is found nearly year-round except for summer, its meridional location seasonally migrates probably due to the change in the mean surface flow.

Regional atmospheric model experiments are conducted to examine the effect of the SST front on the overlying atmosphere. The observed features in winter are adequately simulated when high-resolution SST is prescribed as the boundary condition. The strong Q along the K-KE and resultant SLP trough and ageostrophic surface winds are absent when the SST boundary condition is smoothed in space to weaken the SST front. These results illustrate that the cross-frontal change in Q is of great importance to leave the SST imprint on the overlying atmosphere via hydrostatic and vertical mixing adjustments.

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Hiroto Abe, Youichi Tanimoto, Takuya Hasegawa, and Naoto Ebuchi

Abstract

The present study examined ENSO-related wind forcing contribution to off-equatorial Rossby wave formations in the eastern tropical regions of the North and South Pacific using satellite altimeter data and atmospheric reanalysis data during the period of 1993–2013. After mature phases of ENSO events, the sea surface height anomaly fields showed that off-equatorial Rossby waves propagated westward along 11°N and 8°S from the eastern Pacific. Starting longitudes of the westward propagation were distant from the eastern coast, especially for weak El Niño events in the 2000s, in contrast to the strong 1997/98 El Niño event in which the propagations started from the coast. Based on observational data, it was hypothesized that the Rossby waves could be formed by off-equatorial zonal belts of wind stress curl anomalies (WSCAs) in 135°–90°W rather than by wave emissions from the eastern coast. A numerical model forced only by WSCAs, that is, without wave emissions from the coast, successfully reproduced observed features of the Rossby waves in 180°–120°W, supporting the study’s hypothesis. During mature phases of El Niño events, equatorially symmetric negative sea level pressure anomalies (SLPAs) resulting from hydrostatic adjustment to the underlying warm sea surface temperature anomalies dominated over the eastern tropical Pacific. Anomalous surface easterlies blowing around the negative SLPA area as geostrophic winds were a major contributor in forming the anticyclonic WSCAs. The polarity of the anomalies is reversed during La Niña events. Therefore, spatial patterns of the SLPAs associated with the ENSO events are necessary to understand the Rossby wave formations.

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Hiroki Tokinaga, Youichi Tanimoto, Shang-Ping Xie, Takeaki Sampe, Hiroyuki Tomita, and Hiroshi Ichikawa

Abstract

A suite of shipboard and satellite observations are analyzed and synthesized to investigate the three-dimensional structure of clouds and influences from sea surface temperature fronts over the western North Pacific. Sharp transitions are observed across the Kuroshio Extension (KE) front in the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL) and its clouds. The ocean’s influence appears to extend beyond the MABL, with higher cloud tops in altitude along the KE front than the surroundings.

In winter, intense turbulent heat release from the ocean takes place on the southern flank of the KE front, where the cloud top penetrates above the MABL and reaches the midtroposphere. In this band of high cloud tops, frequent lightning activity is observed. The results of this study suggest a sea level pressure mechanism for which the temperature gradient in the MABL induces strong surface wind convergence on the southern flank of the KE front, deepening the clouds there.

In early summer, sea fog frequently occurs on the northern flank of the subtropical KE and subarctic fronts under southerly warm advection that suppresses surface heat flux and stabilizes the surface atmosphere. Sea fog is infrequently observed over the KE front even under southerly conditions, as the warm ocean current weakens atmospheric stratification and promotes vertical mixing. The KE front produces a narrow band of surface wind convergence, helping support a broad band of upward motion at 700 hPa that is associated with the eastward extension of the baiu rainband from Japan in June–July.

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