Ocean Meso-scale Eddies Influencing Weather Patterns in the North Pacific

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner
Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 2:00 PM
224A (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Xiaohui Ma, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; and P. Chang, R. Saravanan, R. Montuoro, J. S. Hsieh, X. Lin, D. Wu, and L. Wu

Recent high-resolution satellite observations reveal energetic meso-scale ocean eddy activity and positive correlation between meso-scale sea surface temperature (SST) and surface wind along oceanic frontal zones, such as the Kuroshio and Gulf Stream, suggesting a potential role of meso-scale oceanic eddies in forcing the atmosphere. Using a 27 km horizontal resolution Weather Research Forecasting (WRF) model forced with MicroWave InfradRed Optimal Interpolated (MW-IR) daily SST at 0.09 spatial resolution during boreal winter season, two ensembles of 10 simulations, in one of which meso-scale SST variability induced by ocean eddies was suppressed, were conducted in the North Pacific to study the local and remote influence of meso-scale oceanic eddies in the Kuroshio Extention Region (KER) on the atmosphere. Suppression of meso-scale oceanic eddies results in a deep tropospheric response along and downstream of the KER, including a significant decrease (increase) in winter season mean rainfall along the KER (west coast of US), a reduction of storm genesis in the KER, and a southward shift of the jet stream and North Pacific storm track in the eastern North Pacific. The simulated local and remote rainfall response to meso-scale oceanic eddies in the KER is also supported by observational analysis. A mechanism invoking moist baroclinic instability is proposed as a plausible explanation for the linkage between meso-scale oceanic eddies in the KER and large-scale atmospheric response in the North Pacific. It is argued that meso-scale oceanic eddies can have a rectified effect on planetary boundary layer moisture, the stability of the lower atmosphere and latent heat release, which in turn may have an impact on diabatically induced low-level potential vorticity (PV) and its feedback with upper-level PV during cyclogenesis. The modified cyclogenesis can then affect the jet stream through changes in transient eddy forcing and eddy-mean flow interaction, resulting rainfall changes along the west coast of US.