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Atmospheric response to a midlatitude SST front: Alongfront winds

TitleAtmospheric response to a midlatitude SST front: Alongfront winds
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsKilpatrick T., Schneider N., Nu B.
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Date Published2016/09
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0022-4928
Accession NumberWOS:000383923500008
Keywordsboundary-layer; eastern equatorial pacific; gulf-stream; Kuroshio Extension; low-frequency; low-level winds; north pacific; oceanic thermal front; satellite-observations; sea-surface-temperature; variability

Satellite observations and modeling studies show that midlatitude SST fronts influence the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL) and atmospheric circulation. Here, the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) mesoscale model is used to explore the atmospheric response to a midlatitude SST front in an idealized, dry, two-dimensional configuration, with a background wind (V) over bar oriented in the alongfront direction. The SST front excites an alongfront wind anomaly in the free atmosphere, with peak intensity just above the MABL. This response is nearly quasigeostrophic, in contrast to the inertia-gravity wave response seen for cross-front background winds. The free-atmosphere response increases with the background wind (V) over bar, in contrast to previously proposed SST frontal MABL models. The MABL winds are nearly in Ekman balance. However, a cross-front wind develops in the MABL as a result of friction and rotation such that the MABL cross-front Rossby numbers epsilon approximate to 0.2. The MABL vorticity balance and scaling arguments indicate that advection plays an important role in the MABL dynamics. Surface wind convergence shows poor agreement with MABL depth-integrated convergence, indicating that the MABL mixed-layer assumption may not be appropriate for SST frontal zones with moderate to strong surface winds.

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