Marine Science Faculty Publications

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Velocity data from an array of acoustic Doppler current profilers moored about 0°, 140°W from May 1990 through June 1991 during the Tropical Instability Wave Experiment are used in conjunction with Tropical Atmosphere‐Ocean array data and a blended sea surface temperature (SST) product to study the processes that control SST variations. The horizontal velocity data allow us to calculate the vertical velocity component by vertically integrating the continuity equation. Given the three‐dimensional temperature flux divergence, we examine the role of the ocean circulation in SST. Upwelling and downwelling are found to be associated with cooling and warming, respectively, suggesting that a vertical velocity component of either sign affects SST. Both the temperature flux divergence and advective formulations for the ocean circulation's influence on the temperature budget show times when the ocean circulation appears to provide the primary control on SST and times when this is not the case, with the flux divergence formulation performing better than the advective formulation. Statistically, within a bandwidth encompassing the tropical instability waves and the intraseasonal variations, roughly half of the SST variation is accounted for by the ocean circulation. These results are encouraging, given that data sets with different spatial and temporal scales have been used. They suggest that future field experimentation which utilizes a flux divergence array with velocity and temperature data sampled at the same spatial and temporal scales will yield quantitatively improved results. The analyses also show that the ocean circulation, on average, provides a cooling effect requiring the net surface heat flux to be positive to maintain the mean background state. The cooling effect is mainly controlled by mean ocean circulation and temperature fields..

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Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 106, issue C9, p. 19515-19526

Copyright 2001 by the American Geophysical Union.