Storm track response to ocean fronts in a global high-resolution climate model

AMS Citation:
Small, R. J., R. A. Tomas, and F. O. Bryan, 2014: Storm track response to ocean fronts in a global high-resolution climate model. Climate Dynamics, 43, 805-828, doi:10.1007/s00382-013-1980-9.
Date:2014-08-01
Resource Type:article
Title:Storm track response to ocean fronts in a global high-resolution climate model
Abstract: Synoptic atmospheric eddies are affected by lower tropospheric air-temperature gradients and by turbulent heat fluxes from the surface. In this study we examine how ocean fronts affect these quantities and hence the storm tracks. We focus on two midlatitude regions where ocean fronts lie close to the storm tracks: the north-west Atlantic and the Southern Ocean. An atmospheric climate model of reasonably high resolution (~50 km) is applied in a climate-length (60 year) simulation in order to obtain stable statistics. Simulations with frontal structure in the sea surface temperature (SST) in one of the regions are compared against simulations with globally smoothed SST. We show that in both regions the ocean fronts have a strong influence on the transient eddy heat and moisture fluxes, not just in the boundary layer, but also in the free troposphere. Local differences in these quantities between the simulations reach 20–40 % of the maximum values in the simulation with smoothed SST. Averaged over the entire region of the storm track over the ocean the corresponding differences are 10–20 %. The effect on the transient eddy meridional wind variance is strong in the boundary layer but relatively weak above that. The potential mechanisms by which the ocean fronts influence the storm tracks are discussed, and our results are compared against previous studies with regional models, Aquaplanet models, and coarse resolution coupled models.
Peer Review:Refereed
Copyright Information:Copyright 2014 Springer.
OpenSky citable URL: ark:/85065/d7d79cc5
Publisher's Version: 10.1007/s00382-013-1980-9
Author(s):
  • R. Small - NCAR/UCAR
  • Robert Tomas - NCAR/UCAR
  • Frank Bryan - NCAR/UCAR
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