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Ocean Science An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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doi:10.5194/os-2017-24
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
12 Apr 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Ocean Science (OS).
Feedback of mesoscale ocean currents on atmospheric winds in high-resolution coupled models and implications for the forcing of ocean-only models
Rafael Abel1, Claus W. Böning1, Richard J. Greatbatch1, Helene T. Hewitt2, and Malcolm J. Roberts2 1GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Kiel, Germany
2Met Office, Exeter, United Kingdom
Abstract. The repercussions of surface ocean currents for the near-surface wind and the air-sea momentum flux are investigated in two versions of a global climate model with eddying ocean. The focus is on the effect of mesoscale ocean current features at scales of less than 150 km, by considering high-pass filtered, monthly-mean model output fields. We find a clear signature of a mesoscale oceanic imprint in the wind fields over the energetic areas of the oceans, particularly along the extensions of the western boundary currents and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. These areas are characterized by a positive correlation between mesoscale perturbations in the curl of the surface currents and the wind curl. The coupling coefficients are spatially non-uniform and show a pronounced seasonal cycle. The positive feedback of mesoscale current features on the near-surface wind acts in opposition to their damping effect on the wind stress. A tentative incorporation of this feedback in the surface stress formulation of an eddy-permitting global ocean-only model leads to a gain in the kinetic energy of up to 10 %, suggesting a fundamental shortcoming of present ocean model configurations.

Citation: Abel, R., Böning, C. W., Greatbatch, R. J., Hewitt, H. T., and Roberts, M. J.: Feedback of mesoscale ocean currents on atmospheric winds in high-resolution coupled models and implications for the forcing of ocean-only models, Ocean Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/os-2017-24, in review, 2017.
Rafael Abel et al.
Rafael Abel et al.
Rafael Abel et al.

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Short summary
In coupled global atmosphere ocean models a feedback from ocean surface currents to atmospheric winds was found. Surface winds are energized by about 30 % of the ocean currents. We were able to implement this feedback in uncoupled ocean models which results in a realistic surface flux coupling. Due to changes in the dissipation the kinetic energy of the time-variable flow is increased up to 10 % when this feedback is implemented. Implementation in other models should be straightforward.
In coupled global atmosphere ocean models a feedback from ocean surface currents to atmospheric...
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