Ocean variability and air-sea fluxes produced by atmospheric rivers


Atmospheric rivers (ARs) cause heavy precipitation and flooding in the coastal areas of many mid-latitude continents, and thus the atmospheric processes associated with the AR have been intensively studied in recent years. However, AR-associated ocean variability and air-sea fluxes have received little attention because of the lack of high-resolution ocean data until recently. Here we demonstrate that typical ARs can generate strong upper ocean response and substantial air-sea fluxes using a high-resolution (1/12°) ocean reanalysis. AR events observed during the CalWater 2015 field campaign generate large-scale on-shore currents that hit the coast, generating strong narrow northward jets along the west coast of North America, in association with a substantial rise of sea level at the coast. In the open ocean, the AR generates prominent changes of mixed layer depth, especially south of 30°N due to the strong surface winds and air-sea heat fluxes. The prominent cooling of SST is observed only in the vicinity of AR upstream areas primarily due to the large latent heat flux. Using a long-term AR dataset, composite structure and variations of upper ocean and air-sea fluxes are presented, which are consistent with those found in the events during CalWater 2015.



ocean, air-sea, rivers


This research is supported by NSF grants AGS-1347132


Attribution 4.0 International


Shinoda, T., Zamudio, L., Guo, Y., Metzger, E.J. and Fairall, C.W., 2019. Ocean variability and air-sea fluxes produced by atmospheric rivers. Scientific reports, 9(1), pp.1-12.