National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2005

EPIC 95°W observations of the eastern Pacific atmospheric boundary layer from the cold tongue to the ITCZ

de Szoeke, S.P., C.S. Bretherton, N.A. Bond, M.F. Cronin, and B.M. Morley

J. Atmos. Sci., 62(2), 426–442, doi: 10.1175/JAS-3381.1 (2005)

The atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) along 95°W in the eastern equatorial Pacific during boreal autumn is described using data from the East Pacific Investigation of Climate (EPIC) 2001, with an emphasis on the evolution of the thermodynamic ABL properties from the cold tongue to the coldadvection region north of the sea surface temperature (SST) front. Surface sensible and latent heat fluxes and wind stresses between 1°S and 12°N are calculated from data from eight NCAR C-130 research aircraft flights and from Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) buoys. Reduced surface wind speed and a 10 m s 1 jet at a height of 500 m are found over the equatorial cold tongue, demonstrating the dependence of the surface wind speed on surface stability.

The ABL exhibits a maximum in cloud cover on the north (downwind) side of the warm SST front, at 1°-3°N. Turbulent mixing driven by both surface buoyancy flux and radiative cooling at the cloud tops plays a significant role in maintaining the depth and structure of the ABL. The ABL heat budget between the equator and 3°N is balanced by comparable contributions from advective cooling, radiative cooling, surface warming, and entrainment warming. Entrainment drying is a weak contributor to the moisture budget, relative to dry advection and surface evaporation. Both the heat and moisture budgets are consistent with a rapid entrainment rate, 12 ± 2 mm s, deduced from the observed rise of the inversion with latitude between 0° and 4°N.

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