Advances in Atmospheric Sciences

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 882–896 | Cite as

The Heat Balance in the Western Equatorial Pacific Warm Pool during the Westerly Wind Bursts: A Case Study

  • Liu Hailong
  • Zhang Xuehong
  • Li Wei


The responses of sea surface temperature (SST) in the western equatorial Pacific warm pool to the westerly wind bursts (WWBs) play an important role in the relationship between WWB and ENSO. By using data collected from eight buoys of TOGA (Tropical Ocean-Global Atmosphere)- COARE (Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Response Experiment), the heat balances of the upper ocean in the western equatorial Pacific around 0°, 156°E during two WWB events were calculated according to Stevenson and Niiler’s (1983) method. In both events, SST increased before and after the WWBs, while decreased within the WWBs. The SST amplitudes approximated to I °C. Although sometimes the horizontal heat advections may become the biggest term in the heat balance, the variation of SST was dominated by the surface heat flux. On the other aspect, some different features of the two events are also revealed. The two cases have different variation of mixed layer depth. The depth of mixed layer is almost double in the first case (35 m to 70 m), which is caused by Ekman convergence, while only !Om increments due to entrainment in the second one. There are also differences in the currents structure. The different variations of thermal and currents structure in the mixing layers accounted for the different variation of the heat balance during the two events, especially the advection and residue terms. The seasonal variation of SST in this area is also investigated simply. The first WWB event happened just during the seasonal transition. So we considered that it is a normal season transition rather than a so-called anomaly. That also suggested that the seasonal distinction of the WWB is worthy of more attention in the researches of its relationship to ENSO.

Key words

Westerly wind burst The western equatorial Pacific warm pool Heat balance 


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Copyright information

© Advances in Atmospheric Sciences 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liu Hailong
    • 1
  • Zhang Xuehong
    • 1
  • Li Wei
    • 1
  1. 1.LASG, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsBeijingChina

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