National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2014

Role of mixed layer depth in surface frontogensis: The Agulhas Return Current front

Tozuka, T., and M.F. Cronin

Geophys. Res. Lett., 41(7), 2447–2453, doi: 10.1002/2014GL059624 (2014)

Air-sea interaction processes that modify the sea surface temperature (SST) front in the Agulhas Return Current region (between 40°E and 55°E) during austral summer and winter are examined using observational data and output from a high-resolution ocean general circulation model. While the air-sea heat flux frontal variations tend to relax the SST front, the frontolysis is amplified (damped) in summer (winter) when frontal variations in the mixed layer depth (MLD) are incorporated. The stronger (weaker) frontolysis associated with the MLD variations is due to the fact that the warming (cooling) by the surface heat flux is amplified south of the front where the MLD is shallower and is reduced north of the front where the MLD is deeper. This study is the first to show that the MLD variations play an important role in affecting the strength of the SST front.

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