Great Lakes Research Center
This study provides the first detailed analysis of oceanic and atmospheric responses to the current-stress, wave-stress, and wave-current-stress interactions around the Gulf Stream using a high-resolution three-way coupled regional modeling system. In general, our results highlight the substantial impact of coupling currents and/or waves with wind stress on the air–sea fluxes over the Gulf Stream. The stress and the curl of the stress are crucial to mixed-layer energy budgets and sea surface temperature. In the wave-current-stress coupled experiment, wind stress increased by 15% over the Gulf Stream. Alternating positive and negative bands of changes of Ekman-related vertical velocity appeared in response to the changes of the wind stress curl along the Gulf Stream, with magnitudes exceeding 0.3 m/day (the 95th percentile). The response of wind stress and its curl to the wave-current-stress coupling was not a linear combination of responses to the wave-stress coupling and the current-stress coupling because the ocean and wave induced changes in the atmosphere showed substantial feedback on the ocean. Changes of a latent heat flux in excess of 20 W/m2 and a sensible heat flux in excess of 5 W/m2 were found over the Gulf Stream in all coupled experiments. Sensitivity tests show that sea surface temperature (SST) induced difference of air–sea humidity is a major contributor to latent heat flux (LHF) change. Validation is challenging because most satellite observations lack the spatial resolution to resolve the current-induced changes in wind stress curls and heat fluxes. Scatterometer observations can be used to examine the changes in wind stress across the Gulf Stream. The conversion of model data to equivalent neutral winds is highly dependent on the physics considered in the air–sea turbulent fluxes, as well as air–sea temperature differences. This sensitivity is shown to be large enough that satellite observations of winds can be used to test the flux parameterizations in coupled models.
Bourassa, M. A.
Coupling ocean currents and waves with wind stress over the Gulf Stream.
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