Air-sea interactions during strong winter extratropical storms

Ocean Dynamics
By: , and 



A high-resolution, regional coupled atmosphere–ocean model is used to investigate strong air–sea interactions during a rapidly developing extratropical cyclone (ETC) off the east coast of the USA. In this two-way coupled system, surface momentum and heat fluxes derived from the Weather Research and Forecasting model and sea surface temperature (SST) from the Regional Ocean Modeling System are exchanged via the Model Coupling Toolkit. Comparisons are made between the modeled and observed wind velocity, sea level pressure, 10 m air temperature, and sea surface temperature time series, as well as a comparison between the model and one glider transect. Vertical profiles of modeled air temperature and winds in the marine atmospheric boundary layer and temperature variations in the upper ocean during a 3-day storm period are examined at various cross-shelf transects along the eastern seaboard. It is found that the air–sea interactions near the Gulf Stream are important for generating and sustaining the ETC. In particular, locally enhanced winds over a warm sea (relative to the land temperature) induce large surface heat fluxes which cool the upper ocean by up to 2 °C, mainly during the cold air outbreak period after the storm passage. Detailed heat budget analyses show the ocean-to-atmosphere heat flux dominates the upper ocean heat content variations. Results clearly show that dynamic air–sea interactions affecting momentum and buoyancy flux exchanges in ETCs need to be resolved accurately in a coupled atmosphere–ocean modeling framework.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Air-sea interactions during strong winter extratropical storms
Series title Ocean Dynamics
DOI 10.1007/s10236-014-0745-2
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Springer
Publisher location Berlin
Contributing office(s) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Ocean Dynamics
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