On the Relationship between SST Gradients, Boundary Layer Winds, and Convergence over the Tropical Oceans
Author(s)Back, Larissa E.; Bretherton, Christopher S.
MetadataShow full item record
A linear mixed layer model that skillfully reproduces observed surface winds and convergence over the tropical oceans is used to examine the relative influence of boundary layer and free-tropospheric processes on the distribution of climatological surface winds and convergence. The semiempirical model assumes a subcloud-layer momentum force balance between pressure gradients, Coriolis acceleration, linearized friction, and downward momentum mixing, and it utilizes boundary conditions from the 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40). Observed pressure gradients are linearly decomposed into boundary layer (defined as the region below 850 hPa) and free-tropospheric components, and the surface winds and convergence associated with these components are computed. Results show that surface zonal winds are predominantly associated with a combination of free-tropospheric pressure gradients and downward momentum mixing, whereas the distribution of convergence is primarily due to boundary layer temperature gradients, which are closely related to SST gradients. The authors conclude that the climatological distribution of boundary layer convergence is primarily a function of the pattern of SST gradients and is better regarded as a cause rather than a consequence of deep convection.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Journal of Climate
American Meteorological Society
Back, Larissa E., and Christopher S. Bretherton. “On the Relationship Between SST Gradients, Boundary Layer Winds, and Convergence over the Tropical Oceans.” Journal of Climate 22.15 (2009) : 4182-4196.© 2009 American Meteorological Society.
Final published version