Journal of Oceanography

, Volume 71, Issue 5, pp 511–526 | Cite as

Marine atmospheric boundary layer and low-level cloud responses to the Kuroshio Extension front in the early summer of 2012: three-vessel simultaneous observations and numerical simulations

  • Yoshimi KawaiEmail author
  • Toru Miyama
  • Satoshi Iizuka
  • Atsuyoshi Manda
  • Mayumi K. Yoshioka
  • Shuichiro Katagiri
  • Yoshihiro Tachibana
  • Hisashi Nakamura
Special Section: Original Article "Hot Spots" in the Climate System: New Developments in the Extratropical Ocean-Atmosphere Interaction Research


Intensive atmospheric observations were carried out with five research vessels in total across the sea surface temperature (SST) front along the Kuroshio Extension in the early summer of 2012, to identify the effects of the front on the thermal structure and cloud formation in the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL). Three of the vessels were aligned together along the 143°E meridian with latitudinal separation of as small as 30′ or 45′, going back and forth across the SST front for in situ observations during 2–6 July. The SST front was quite sharp and moved northward by about 50 km in 3 days, which was not well represented in objectively analyzed SST data sets. The observations captured rapid changes of the mesoscale MABL structure across the SST front, which were particularly evident in cloud base height and downward longwave radiation (DLR) at the surface. The higher base of low-level clouds observed over the warmer water resulted from stronger turbulent mixing in the MABL, which became prominent under the northerlies. The most frequently measured DLR value was greater by 20 W m−2 to the south of the SST front than to the north. High-resolution atmospheric model experiments conducted with and without the frontal SST gradient have confirmed its critical importance for the MABL structure and low-level clouds. These imprints of the SST front simulated in the models are sensitive to SST data assigned at the lower boundary of the model.


Kuroshio extension Intensive observation Early summer SST front Mid-latitude air–sea interaction Longwave radiation Low-level cloud Water vapor Ceilometer Model experiment 



This work was supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan, Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas (22106007, 22106003, 22106004, 22106005, 22106006 and 22106009). The authors would like to sincerely thank the captains, crews, and cruise leaders of R/V Seisui-maru, R/V Wakataka-maru, and R/V Tansei-maru. Weather charts, MGDSST and MSM data were provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency. Dr. Miyazawa of JAMSTEC and his colleagues kindly provided their JCOPE2 product. The authors thank Dr. Y. Wang of IPRC, University of Hawaii, for providing the IPRC-RAM. The authors are also extremely grateful to Prof. T. Murayama of Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, Dr. H. Tomita of Nagoya University, and all the colleagues who got involved in the intensive observation campaign. The editor and anonymous reviewers provided us with valuable comments and helped us to improve the paper.


  1. Bony S, Dufresne J-L, Le Treut H, Morcrette J-J, Senior C (2004) On dynamic and thermodynamic components of cloud changes. Climate Dyn 22:71–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boucher O et al (2013) Clouds and aerosols. In: Stocker TF et al (eds) Climate change 2013: the physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 571–657Google Scholar
  3. Dee DP et al (2011) The ERA-Interim reanalysis: configuration and performance of the data assimilation system. Quart J R Meteorol Soc 137:553–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Hotta D, Nakamura H (2011) On the significance of sensible heat supply from the ocean in the maintenance of mean baroclinicity along storm tracks. J Clim 24:3377–3401. doi: 10.1175/2010JCLI3910.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Katsaros KB, Soloviev AV (2004) Vanishing horizontal sea surface temperature gradients at low wind speeds. Bound Layer Meteor 112:381–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kawai Y, Tomita H, Cronin MF, Bond NA (2014) Atmospheric pressure response to mesoscale sea surface temperature variations in the Kuroshio Extension: in situ evidence. J Geophys Res Atmos 119:8015–8031. doi: 10.1002/2013JD021126 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kelly KA, Small RJ, Samelson RM, Qiu B, Joyce TM, Kwon Y-O, Cronin M (2010) Western boundary currents and frontal air–sea interaction: Gulf Stream and Kuroshio Extension. J Clim 23:5644–5667. doi: 10.1175/2010JCLI3346.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kwon Y-O, Alexander MA, Bond NA, Frankignoul C, Nakamura H, Qiu B, Thompson L (2010) Role of the Gulf Stream and Kuroshio-Oyashio system in large-scale atmosphere-ocean interaction: a review. J Clim 23:3249–3281. doi: 10.1175/2010JCLI3343.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Liu J-W, Xie S-P, Norris JR, Zhang S-P (2014) Low-level cloud response to the Gulf Stream front in winter using CALIPSO. J Clim 27:4421–4432. doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00469.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Masunaga R, Nakamura H, Miyasaka T, Nishii K, Tanimoto Y (2015) Separation of climatological imprints of the Kuroshio Extension and Oyashio fronts on the wintertime atmospheric boundary layer: Their sensitivity to SST resolution prescribed for atmospheric reanalysis. J Clim (in press)Google Scholar
  11. Miyazawa Y, Zhang R, Guo X, Tamura H, Ambe D, Lee J-S, Okuno A, Yoshinari H, Setou T, Komatsu K (2009) Water mass variability in the western North Pacific detected in a 15-year eddy resolving ocean reanalysis. J Oceanogr 65:737–756CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Nakamura H, Sampe T, Tanimoto Y, Shimpo A (2004) Observed associations among storm tracks, jet streams and midlatitude oceanic fronts. In: Wang C, Xie SP, Carton JA (eds) Earth’s climate: the ocean-atmosphere Interaction. Geophys Monogr Ser, vol 147. AGU, Washington, DC, pp 329–345. doi: 10.1029/147GM18
  13. National Centers for Environmental Prediction/National Weather Service/NOAA/US Department of Commerce (2000) NCEP FNL operational model global tropospheric analyses, continuing from July 1999. Research Data Archive at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Computational and Information Systems Laboratory, Boulder. Accessed 24 Jul 2012
  14. Onogi K et al (2007) The JRA-25 reanalysis. J Meteorol Soc Jpn 85:369–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Randall DA et al (2007) Climate models and their evaluation. In: Solomon S et al (eds) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 589–662Google Scholar
  16. Reynolds RW, Smith TM, Liu C, Chelton DB, Casey KS, Schlax MG (2007) Daily high-resolution-blended analyses for sea surface temperature. J Clim 20:5473–5496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Sakurai T, Kurihara Y, Kuragano T (2005) Merged satellite and in situ data global daily SST, in Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, 2005. IGARSS ‘05. Proceedings. 2005 IEEE International, vol 4. Inst Electr Electron Eng, New York, pp 2606–2608. doi: 10.1109/IGARSS.2005.1525519
  18. Shimada T, Minobe S (2011) Global analysis of the pressure adjustment mechanism over sea surface temperature fronts using AIRS/Aqua data. Geophys Res Lett 38:L06704. doi: 10.1029/2010GL046625 Google Scholar
  19. Skamarock WC, Klemp JB, Dudhia J, Gill DO, Barker DM, Duda MG, Wang W, Powers JG (2008) A description of the advanced research WRF version 3, pp 113, NCAR technical note, NCAR/TN-475 + STR, National Center for Atmospheric Research. Accessed 20 Apr 2011
  20. Small RJ, deSzoeke SP, Xie SP, O’Neill L, Seo H, Song Q, Cornillon P, Spall M, Minobe S (2008) Air-sea interaction over ocean fronts and eddies. Dyn Atmos Oceans 45:274–319. doi: 10.1016/j.dynatmoce.2008.01.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Stevens DE, Ackerman AS, Bretherton CS (2002) Effects of domain size and numerical resolution on the simulation of shallow cumulus convection. J Atmos Sci 59:3285–3301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Taguchi B, Nakamura H, Nonaka M, Xie S-P (2009) Influences of the Kuroshio/Oyashio Extensions on air-sea heat exchanges and storm track activity as revealed in regional atmospheric model simulations for the 2003/4 cold season. J Clim 22:6536–6560. doi: 10.1175/2009JCLI2910.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Tanimoto Y, Xie S-P, Kai K, Okajima H, Tokinaga H, Murayama T, Nonaka M, Nakamura H (2009) Observations of marine atmospheric boundary layer transitions across the summer Kuroshio Extension. J Clim 22:1360–1374. doi: 10.1175/JCLI2420.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Tanimoto Y, Kanenari T, Tokinaga H, Xie S-P (2011) Sea level pressure minimum along the Kuroshio and its extension. J Clim 24:4419–4434. doi: 10.1175/2011JCLI4062.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Tochimoto E, Kawano T (2012) Development processes of Baiu frontal depressions. SOLA 8:9–12. doi: 10.2151/sola.2012-003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Tokinaga H, Tanimoto Y, Xie SP, Sampe T, Tomita H, Ichikawa H (2009) Ocean frontal effects on the vertical development of clouds over the western north Pacific: in situ and satellite observations. J Clim 22:4241–4260. doi: 10.1175/2009JCLI2763.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Vellore R, Koračin D, Wetzel M, Chai S, Wang Q (2007) Challenges in mesoscale prediction of a nocturnal stratocumulus-topped marine boundary layer and implications for operational forecasting. Weather Forecasting 22:1101–1122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wang Y, Xie S-P, Wang B, Xu H (2005) Large-scale atmospheric forcing by Southeast Pacific boundary layer clouds: a regional model study. J Clim 18:934–951CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Yasuda I (2003) Hydrographic structure and variability in the Kuroshio-Oyashio transition area. J Oceanogr 59:389–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Oceanographic Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yoshimi Kawai
    • 1
    Email author
  • Toru Miyama
    • 2
  • Satoshi Iizuka
    • 3
  • Atsuyoshi Manda
    • 4
  • Mayumi K. Yoshioka
    • 5
  • Shuichiro Katagiri
    • 5
  • Yoshihiro Tachibana
    • 6
  • Hisashi Nakamura
    • 2
    • 7
  1. 1.Research and Development Center for Global ChangeJapan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and TechnologyYokosukaJapan
  2. 2.Application LaboratoryJapan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and TechnologyYokohamaJapan
  3. 3.Monitoring and Forecast Research DepartmentNational Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster PreventionTsukubaJapan
  4. 4.Graduate School of Fisheries Science and Environmental StudiesNagasaki UniversityNagasakiJapan
  5. 5.Center for Atmospheric and Oceanic Studies, Graduate School of ScienceTohoku UniversitySendaiJapan
  6. 6.Graduate School of BioresourcesMie UniversityTsuJapan
  7. 7.Research Center for Advanced Science and TechnologyThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations