Modulation of wind-work by ocean current interaction with the atmosphere


Renault, L, MJ Molemaker, JC McWilliams, AF Shchepetkin, F Lemarié, D Chelton, S Illig, and A Hall. 2016. “Modulation of wind-work by ocean current interaction with the atmosphere.” Journal of Physical Oceanography 46 (6): 1685–1704.


In this study, uncoupled and coupled ocean–atmosphere simulations are carried out for the California Upwelling System to assess the dynamic ocean–atmosphere interactions, namely, the ocean surface current feedback to the atmosphere. The authors show the current feedback, by modulating the energy transfer from the atmosphere to the ocean, controls the oceanic eddy kinetic energy (EKE). For the first time, it is demonstrated that the current feedback has an effect on the surface stress and a counteracting effect on the wind itself. The current feedback acts as an oceanic eddy killer, reducing by half the surface EKE, and by 27% the depth-integrated EKE. On one hand, it reduces the coastal generation of eddies by weakening the surface stress and hence the nearshore supply of positive wind work (i.e., the work done by the wind on the ocean). On the other hand, by inducing a surface stress curl opposite to the current vorticity, it deflects energy from the geostrophic current into the atmosphere and dampens eddies. The wind response counteracts the surface stress response. It partly reenergizes the ocean in the coastal region and decreases the offshore return of energy to the atmosphere. Eddy statistics confirm the current feedback dampens the eddies and reduces their lifetime, improving the realism of the simulation. Finally, the authors propose an additional energy element in the Lorenz diagram of energy conversion: namely, the current-induced transfer of energy from the ocean to the atmosphere at the eddy scale.

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See also: Oceans
Last updated on 03/25/2020