Cold pools and their influence on the tropical marine boundary layer

Simon P. de Szoeke, Eric D. Skyllingstad, Paquita Zuidema, Arunchandra S. Chandra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Cold pools dominate the surface temperature variability observed over the central Indian Ocean (0°, 80°E) for 2 months of research cruise observations in the Dynamics of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (DYNAMO) experiment in October-December 2011. Cold pool fronts are identified by a rapid drop of temperature. Air in cold pools is slightly drier than the boundary layer (BL). Consistent with previous studies, cold pools attain wet-bulb potential temperatures representative of saturated downdrafts originating from the lower midtroposphere. Wind and surface fluxes increase, and rain is most likely within the ~20-min cold pool front. Greatest integrated water vapor and liquid follow the front. Temperature and velocity fluctuations shorter than 6 min achieve 90% of the surface latent and sensible heat flux in cold pools. The temperature of the cold pools recovers in about 20 min, chiefly by mixing at the top of the shallow cold wake layer, rather than by surface flux. Analysis of conserved variables shows mean BL air is composed of 51% air entrained from the BL top (800 m), 22% saturated downdrafts, and 27% air at equilibrium with the ocean surface. The number of cold pools, and their contribution to the BL heat and moisture, nearly doubles in the convectively active phase compared to the suppressed phase of the Madden-Julian oscillation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1149-1168
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Atmosphere-ocean interaction
  • Boundary layer
  • Cold pools
  • Madden-Julian oscillation
  • Ship observations
  • Tropics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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