The Effects of SST-Induced Surface Wind Speed and Direction Gradients on Midlatitude Surface Vorticity and Divergence
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB MONTEREY CA
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The effects of surface wind speed and direction gradients on midlatitude surface vorticity and divergence fields associated with mesoscale sea surface temperature SST variability having spatial scales of 100 1000 km are investigated using vector wind observations from the SeaWinds scatterometer on the Quick Scatterometer QuikSCAT satellite and SST from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing System AMSR-E Aqua satellite. The wind-SST coupling is analyzed over the period June 2002-August 2008, corresponding to the first 61 years of the AMSR-E mission. Previous studies have shown that strong wind speed gradients develop in response to persistent mesoscale SST features associated with the Kuroshio Extension, Gulf Stream, South Atlantic, and Agulhas Return Current regions. Midlatitude SST fronts also significantly modify surface wind direction the surface wind speed and direction responses to typical SST differences of about 2 deg-4 deg C are, on average, about 1-2-1 m s and 4 deg-8 deg, respectively, over all four regions. Wind speed perturbations are positively correlated and very nearly collocated spatially with the SST perturbations. Wind direction perturbations, however, are displaced meridionally from the SST perturbations, with cyclonic flow poleward of warm SST and anticyclonic flow poleward of cool SST.