6B.2 Causes of Upper-Ocean Temperature Anomalies in the Tropical North Atlantic

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 3:45 PM
La Nouvelle A ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Allyson Rugg, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and G. R. Foltz and R. Perez

Hurricane activity and regional rainfall are strongly impacted by upper ocean conditions in the tropical North Atlantic, defined as the region between the equator and 20N. A previous study analyzed a strong cold sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly that developed in this region during early 2009 and was recorded by the Pilot Research Array in the Tropical Atlantic (PIRATA) moored buoy at 4N, 23W (Foltz et al. 2012). The same mooring shows a similar cold anomaly in the spring of 2015 as well as a strong warm anomaly in 2010, offering the opportunity for a more comprehensive analysis of the causes of these events. In this study we examine the main causes of the observed temperature anomalies between 1998 and 2015. Basin-scale conditions during these events are analyzed using satellite SST, wind, and rain data, as well as temperature and salinity profiles from the NCEP Global Ocean Data Assimilation System. A more detailed analysis is conducted using ten years of direct measurements from the PIRATA mooring at 4N, 23W. Results show that the cooling and warming anomalies were caused primarily by wind-driven changes in surface evaporative cooling, mixed layer depth, and upper-ocean vertical velocity. Anomalies in surface solar radiation acted to damp the wind-driven SST anomalies in the latitude bands of the ITCZ (3-8N). Basin-scale analyses also suggest a strong connection between the observed SST anomalies and the Atlantic Meridional Mode, a well-known pattern of SST and surface wind anomalies spanning the tropical Atlantic.
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