Maloney and Chelton 2005

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

Eric D. Maloney and Dudley B. Chelton
College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences
Oregon State University

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. 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 30 of longitude by 10 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 x 0.35 (T511). The ability to simulate realistic air-sea interactions is present to varying degrees in the coupled climate models we examine. The MIROC 3-2-HIRES (1.1 x 1.1, T106) is the highest resolution model considered and produces the most realistic air-sea coupling associated with midlatitude current systems. We find that the ability of climate models to simulate air-sea interactions degrades with decreasing grid resolution.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0444564. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recomendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).