Land–atmosphere–ocean interactions in the southeastern Atlantic: interannual variability
Land–atmosphere–ocean interactions in the southeastern South Atlantic and their connections to interannual variability are examined using a regional climate model coupled with an intermediate-level ocean model. In austral summer, zonal displacements of the South Atlantic subtropical high (SASH) can induce variations of mixed-layer currents in the Benguela upwelling region through surface wind stress curl anomalies near the Namibian coast, and an eastward shifted SASH is related to the first Pacific–South American mode. When the SASH is meridionally displaced, mixed layer vertically-integrated Ekman transport anomalies are mainly a response to the change of alongshore surface wind stress. The latitudinal shift of the SASH tends to dampen the anomalous alongshore wind by modulating the land-sea thermal contrast, while opposed by oceanic diffusion. Although the position of the SASH is closely linked to the phase of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the southern annular mode (SAM) in austral summer, an overall relationship between Benguela upwelling strength and ENSO or SAM is absent. During austral winter, variations of the mixed layer Ekman transport in the Benguela upwelling region are connected to the strength of the SASH through its impact on both coastal wind stress curl and alongshore surface wind stress. Compared with austral summer, low-level cloud cover change plays a more important role. Although wintertime sea surface temperature fluctuations in the equatorial Atlantic are strong and may act to influence variability over the northern Benguela area, the surface heat budget analysis suggests that local air-sea interactions dominate.
This research was supported by award NNX13AQ76G from NASA’s Physical Oceanography Program. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NASA. We thank the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin for providing high performance computing and data storage resources. The ERA-Interim product was obtained from the Computational and Information System Laboratory (CISL) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
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