Climate Dynamics

, Volume 38, Issue 11–12, pp 2559–2573 | Cite as

Mixed layer modeling in the East Pacific warm pool during 2002



Two vertical mixing models (the modified dynamic instability model of Price et al.; PWP, and K-Profile Parameterizaton; KPP) are used to analyze intraseasonal sea surface temperature (SST) variability in the northeast tropical Pacific near the Costa Rica Dome during boreal summer of 2002. Anomalies in surface latent heat flux and shortwave radiation are the root cause of the three intraseasonal SST oscillations of order 1°C amplitude that occur during this time, although surface stress variations have a significant impact on the third event. A slab ocean model that uses observed monthly varying mixed layer depths and accounts for penetrating shortwave radiation appears to well-simulate the first two SST oscillations, but not the third. The third oscillation is associated with small mixed layer depths (<5 m) forced by, and acting with, weak surface stresses and a stabilizing heat flux that cause a transient spike in SST of 2°C. Intraseasonal variations in freshwater flux due to precipitation and diurnal flux variability do not significantly impact these intraseasonal oscillations. These results suggest that a slab ocean coupled to an atmospheric general circulation model, as used in previous studies of east Pacific intraseasonal variability, may not be entirely adequate to realistically simulate SST variations. Further, while most of the results from the PWP and KPP models are similar, some important differences that emerge are discussed.


Mixed layer modeling SST variability KPP PWP Costa Rica Dome 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Atmospheric ScienceColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.University of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUSA

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