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An Assessment of the SST Influence on Surface Wind Stress in Numerical Weather Prediction and Climate Models

By Eric D. Maloney and Dudley B. Chelton


We analyze the ability of six climate models to capture the observed coupling between SST and surface wind stress in the vicinity of strong midlatitude SST fronts. The analysis emphasizes air-sea interactions associated with ocean meanders in the eastward extensions of major western boundary current systems such as the Gulf Stream, Agulhas, and Kuroshio Currents. Satellite observations of wind stress from the SeaWinds scatterometer on QuikSCAT and sea surface temperatures from AMSR clearly indicate the influence of SST on surface wind stress on scales smaller than about 30º of longitude by 10º of latitude. Spatially high pass filtered SST and wind stress variations are linearly related, with higher SST associated with higher wind stress. The influence of SST on wind stress is also clearly identifiable in the ECMWF operational forecast model, having a grid resolution of 0.35 o x 0.35 o (T511). The coupling coefficient between wind stress and SST, as indicated by the slope of the linear least squares fit, is only half as strong as for satellite observations, however. The ability to simulate realistic air-sea interactions is present to varying degrees i

Year: 2005
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