National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2021

Asymmetric air-sea heat flux response and ocean impact to synoptic-scale atmospheric disturbances observed at JKEO and KEO buoys

Tomita, H., M.F. Cronin, and S. Ohishi

Sci. Rep., 11, 469, doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-80665-8, View online (open access) (2021)

This study aims to identify patterns of surface heat fluxes, and corresponding surface ocean responses, associated with synoptic-scale atmospheric events and their modulation on seasonal time scales. In particular, northerly and southerly wind events associated with atmospheric disturbances were analyzed using high-temporal resolution time-series data from two moored buoys (JKEO: 2007–2010 and KEO: 2004–2019) north and south of the Kuroshio Extension current. Although each synoptic-scale wind event generally impacted both sites, the composite surface heat flux was larger at the northern site, especially for northerly events. Both types of wind events were observed throughout the year, with a minimum during June-July–August. Northerly wind events tended to be accompanied by lowered air-temperature, while southerly events tended to have elevated air-temperature relative to the previous three days. The resulting anomalous surface heat loss was asymmetric, with larger changes in northerly events compared to the southerly events. A large and significant ocean response of − 0.28 to − 0.46 K (p-value < 0.05) in SST was confirmed only for northerly events in spring–summer at the northern site, while smaller changes were found at the southern site. The results of this study suggest that sub-monthly air-sea interactions may affect seasonal variability and potentially climate change over longer timescales.

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