Numerical Simulations of the Response of the Marine Atmosphere to Ocean Forcing

Darko Koračin Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada

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David P. Rogers Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California

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Abstract

The effect of a stable internal boundary layer (IBL) on the cloud-capped marine boundary layer is investigated using a one-dimensional second-order closure model. A stable IBL forms if there is a reversal in the surface buoyancy flux when warm air flows over colder water. These conditions exist in the vicinity of Ocean fronts where sea surface temperature discontinuities of about 2°C in 5 km have been observed. There is a balance between the buoyant consumption and inertial production of kinetic energy so that the layer remains weakly turbulent and can deepen due to shear-driven mixing. The stability of the layer limits momentum exchange with the air above so that there is a significant reduction in the surface stress in the IBL and an acceleration of the flow aloft. There are important implications for cloud development in regions of large ocean temperature gradients because a stable IBL can limit the vertical transfer of moisture from the surface to the upper part of the boundary layer.

In addition, solar radiation is found to heat the cloud layer sufficiently to cause decoupling between the cloud and subcloud layers during the daytime. This effect is important in determining the rate at which the cloud layer evaporates.

Abstract

The effect of a stable internal boundary layer (IBL) on the cloud-capped marine boundary layer is investigated using a one-dimensional second-order closure model. A stable IBL forms if there is a reversal in the surface buoyancy flux when warm air flows over colder water. These conditions exist in the vicinity of Ocean fronts where sea surface temperature discontinuities of about 2°C in 5 km have been observed. There is a balance between the buoyant consumption and inertial production of kinetic energy so that the layer remains weakly turbulent and can deepen due to shear-driven mixing. The stability of the layer limits momentum exchange with the air above so that there is a significant reduction in the surface stress in the IBL and an acceleration of the flow aloft. There are important implications for cloud development in regions of large ocean temperature gradients because a stable IBL can limit the vertical transfer of moisture from the surface to the upper part of the boundary layer.

In addition, solar radiation is found to heat the cloud layer sufficiently to cause decoupling between the cloud and subcloud layers during the daytime. This effect is important in determining the rate at which the cloud layer evaporates.

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