Direct observations of atmospheric boundary layer response to SST variations associated with tropical instability waves over the eastern equatorial Pacific

Hiroshi Hashizume, Shang Ping Xie, Masatomo Fujiwara, Masato Shiotani, Tomowo Watanabe, Youichi Tanimoto, Timothy W. Liu, Kensuke Takeuchi

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97 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Tropical instability waves (TIWs), with a typical wavelength of 1000 km and period of 30 days, cause the equatorial front to meander and result in SST variations on the order of 1°-2°C. Vertical soundings of temperature, humidity, and wind velocity were obtained on board a Japanese research vessel, which sailed through three fully developed SST waves from 140° to 110°W along 2°N during 21-28 September 1999. A strong temperature inversion is observed throughout the cruise alng 2°N, capping the planetary boundary layer (PBL) that is 1-1.5 km deep. Temperature response to TIW-induced SST changes penetrates the whole depth of the PBL. In response to an SST increase, air temperature rises in the lowest kilometer and shows a strong cooling at the mean inversion height. As a result, this temperature dipole is associated with little TIW signal in the observed sea level pressure (SLP). The cruise mean vertical profiles show a speed maximum at 400-500 m for both zonal and meridional velocities. SST-based composite profiles of zonal wind velocity show weakened (intensified) vertical shear within the PBL that is consistent with enhanced (reduced) vertical mixing, causing surface wind to accelerate (decelerate) over warm (cold) SSTs. Taken together, the temperature and wind soundings indicate the dominance of the vertical mixing over the SLP-driving mechanism. Based on the authors' measurements, a physical interpretation of the widely used PBL model proposed by Lindzen and Nigam is presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3379-3393
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Climate
Volume15
Issue number23
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Dec 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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