Air-sea interaction over ocean fronts and eddies

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Air-sea interaction at ocean fronts and eddies exhibits positive correlation between sea surface temperature (SST), wind speed, and heat fluxes out of the ocean, indicating that the ocean is forcing the atmosphere. This contrasts with larger scale climate modes where the negative correlations suggest that the atmosphere is driving the system. This paper examines the physical processes that lie behind the interaction of sharp SST gradients and the overlying marine atmospheric boundary layer and deeper atmosphere, using high resolution satellite data, field data and numerical models. The importance of different physical mechanisms of atmospheric response to SST gradients, such as the effect of surface stability variations on momentum transfer, pressure gradients, secondary circulations and cloud cover will be assessed. The atmospheric response is known to create small-scale wind stress curl and divergence anomalies, and a discussion of the feedback of these features onto the ocean will also be presented. These processes will be compared and contrasted for different regions such as the Equatorial Front in the Eastern Pacific, and oceanic fronts in mid-latitudes such as the Gulf Stream, Kuroshio, and Agulhas Return Current. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans