Climate Dynamics

, Volume 21, Issue 7, pp 559–571

Coupled variability and air-sea interaction in the South Atlantic Ocean


DOI: 10.1007/s00382-003-0348-y

Cite this article as:
Sterl, A. & Hazeleger, W. Climate Dynamics (2003) 21: 559. doi:10.1007/s00382-003-0348-y


A total of 52 years of data (1949–2000) from the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis are used to investigate mechanisms involved in forcing and damping of sea surface temperature (SST) variability in the South Atlantic Ocean. Organized patterns of coupled ocean–atmosphere variability are identified using EOF and SVD analyses. The leading mode of coupled variability consists of an SST pattern with a strong northeast–southwest gradient and an SLP monopole centered at 15°W, 45°S. The anomalous winds associated with this monopole generate the SST pattern through anomalous latent heat flux and mixed layer deepening. Other heat flux components and anomalous Ekman transport play only a secondary role. Once established, the SST pattern is attenuated through latent heat flux. The higher SST modes are also induced by anomalous winds and destroyed by latent heat flux. It thus appears that the coupled variability in the South Atlantic Ocean consists of atmospheric circulation anomalies that induce SST anomalies through anomalous latent heat fluxes and wind-induced mixed layer deepening. These SST anomalies are destroyed by latent heat flux with no detectable systematic feedback onto the atmospheric circulation. Atmospheric variability in the South Atlantic is found to be largely independent of that elsewhere, although there is a weak relation with ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation).

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI)3730 AE De BiltNetherlands