Quantifying the Contribution of Mean Flow and Eddy Advection to the Warm SST Bias in the Southeast Tropical Atlantic Region
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In current-generation climate models, the warm sea surface temperature (SST) bias problem is most commonly seen in the eastern boundary upwelling systems (EBUSs), and is most pronounced and most prevalent in the Southeast Tropical Atlantic (SETA) region. Previous studies have shown that the coastal wind pattern in this region, namely the Benguela low-level coastal jet (BLLCJ), is of great importance for the generation of such SST bias, because the coastal ocean circulation is highly sensitive to the off-shore structure of the wind forcing. Using an eddy-resolving regional ocean model, we first show that the SST bias in the region is drastically reduced when forced with simulated winds from a high-resolution regional atmospheric model. We subsequently demonstrate that the SST bias is highly sensitive to the spatial structure of the wind stress curl (WSC). We also find that when the ocean model is forced by a realistic high-resolution wind, the ocean model resolution is of second order importance in reducing the SST bias. Furthermore, we use a double-time average (DTA) method to quantify the contribution of heat budget terms, and show that the horizontal advection contributes significantly to the SST bias. We then examined the question: To what extent do ocean eddies play a role in balancing the coastal ocean heat budget and affecting the SST bias? By experimenting with a submesoscale eddy-permitting regional ocean model, we show that ocean eddies in the Southeast Tropical Atlantic region are most energetic near the Angola-Benguela Front (ABF), the Lüderitz Upwelling Cell region and the Agulhas Leakage region. In these three regions, comparisons between the two model simulations forced with the low- vs high-resolution winds suggest that the SST bias is mainly generated by mean flow advection with ocean eddies playing the role of counteracting the warming induced by the mean flow advection in this region.
southeast tropical Atlantic
Benguela low-level coastal jet
Li, Pin (2018). Quantifying the Contribution of Mean Flow and Eddy Advection to the Warm SST Bias in the Southeast Tropical Atlantic Region. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from