Regimes of seasonal air-sea interaction and implications for performance of forced simulations

Renguang Wu, Ben P. Kirtman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

104 Scopus citations

Abstract

Sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies can induce anomalous convection through surface evaporation and low-level moisture convergence. This SST forcing of the atmosphere is indicated in a positive local rainfall-SST correlation. Anomalous convection can feedback on SST through cloud-radiation and wind-evaporation effects and wind-induced oceanic mixing and upwelling. These atmospheric feedbacks are reflected in a negative local rainfall-SST tendency correlation. As such, the simultaneous rainfall-SST and rainfall-SST tendency correlations can indicate the nature of local air-sea interactions. Based on the magnitude of simultaneous rainfall-SST and rainfall-SST tendency correlations, the present study identifies three distinct regimes of local air-sea interactions. The relative importance of SST forcing and atmospheric forcing differs in these regimes. In the equatorial central-eastern Pacific and, to a smaller degree, in the western equatorial Indian Ocean, SST forcing dominates throughout the year and the surface heat flux acts mainly as a damping term. In the tropical Indo-western Pacific Ocean regions, SST forcing and atmospheric forcing dominate alternatively in different seasons. Atmospheric forcing dominates in the local warm/rainy season. SST forcing dominates with a positive wind-evaporation feedback during the transition to the cold/dry season. SST forcing also dominates during the transition to the warm/ rainy season but with a negative cloud-radiation feedback. The performance of atmospheric general circulation model simulations forced by observed SST is closely linked to the regime of air-sea interaction. The forced simulations have good performance when SST forcing dominates. The performance is low or poor when atmospheric forcing dominates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-410
Number of pages18
JournalClimate Dynamics
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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