Asia-Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 467–481 | Cite as

Catalina Eddy as revealed by the historical downscaling of reanalysis

  • Masao Kanamitsu
  • Elena Yulaeva
  • Haiqin Li
  • Song-You Hong


Climatological properties, dynamical and thermodynamical characteristics of the Catalina Eddy are examined from the 61 years NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis downscaled to hourly 10 km resolution. The eddy is identified as a mesoscale cyclonic circulation confined to the Southern California Bight. Pattern correlation of wind direction against the canonical Catalina Eddy is used to extract cases from the downscaled analysis. Validation against published cases and various observations confirmed that the downscaled analysis accurately reproduces Catalina Eddy events. A composite analysis of the initiation phase of the eddy indicates that no apparent large-scale cyclonic/anti-cyclonic large-scale forcing is associated with the eddy formation or decay. The source of the vorticity is located at the coast of the Santa Barbara Channel. It is generated by the convergence of the wind system crossing over the San Rafael Mountains and the large-scale northwesterly flow associated with the subtropical high. This vorticity is advected towards the southeast by the northwesterly flow, which contributes to the formation of the streak of positive vorticity. At 6 hours prior to the mature stage, there is an explosive generation of positive vorticity along the coast, coincident with the phase change of the sea breeze circulation (wind turning from onshore to offshore), resulting in the convergence all along the California coast. The generation of vorticity due to convergence along the coast together with the advection of vorticity from the north resulted in the formation of southerly flow along the coast, forming the Catalina Eddy. The importance of diurnal variation and the lack of large-scale forcing are new findings, which are in sharp contrast to prior studies. These differences are due to the inclusion of many short-lived eddy events detected in our study which have not been included in other studies.

Key words

Catalina Eddy vorticity diurnal variation sea breeze 


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Copyright information

© Korean Meteorological Society and Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Masao Kanamitsu
    • 1
  • Elena Yulaeva
    • 1
  • Haiqin Li
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Song-You Hong
    • 3
  1. 1.Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of California San DiegoSan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction StudiesFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  3. 3.Department of Atmospheric Sciences, College of ScienceYonsei UniversitySeoulKorea
  4. 4.Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction StudiesFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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