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Air-Sea Interaction Patterns in the Equatorial Pacific

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Master's thesis

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We have investigated air-sea interaction patterns in the equatorial Pacific during the 1991-1992 El NinoSouthern Oscillation ENSO event. Our study focused on the identification of spatial and temporal relationships between sea surface temperatures, subsurface temperatures, and winds. These relationships were examined using time series and statistical analyses of atmosphere and ocean data from the moored buoys of the Tropical Oceans-Global Atmosphere TOGA program. Our results strongly suggest that the heat content of the ocean mixed layer greatly affected air-sea interactions. In almost all regions, mixed layer warming was followed within one week by increased winds. In most cases, the mixed layer warming before wind events was accompanied by a thickening of the mixed layer, suggesting that internal waves were strongly influencing air-sea interactions. Increased winds tended to precede surface cooling and subsurface warming by a few days. There were strong correlations between warming cooling thermocline temperature and increased decreased zonal winds at the central and eastern equatorial Pacific buoys. In the central Pacific, thermocline warming cooling was associated with westerlies easterlies. This suggested that equatorially trapped Kelvin waves warmed and thickened the mixed layer, resulting in increased zonal winds. In the central Pacific, these local zonal winds then reinforced the Kelvin waves through downwelling and upwelling. Ocean temperature inversions were found throughout the Pacific. Mixed layer, Kelvin waves, Turbulent kinetic energy, Bouyancy damping, Tropical cyclone, El Nino, ENSO, Heat content, Thermocline, Air-sea interaction, Reaction, Equatorial pacific, Ocean temperature inversions, TOGA, Barrier-layer.

Subject Categories:

  • Meteorology
  • Physical and Dynamic Oceanography

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