Researchers from PhOD and from the University of Cape Town used temperature data from the AX25 repeat XBT transect (from South Africa to Antarctica) in combination with other hydrographic and satellite observations to report a mechanism by which local winds alter the structure of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current flow south of Africa.
Results from research performed by Dillon Amaya, an undergraduate Hollings Scholar from Texas A&M University, were published recently in Journal of Geophysical Research. Dillon’s work was carried out in the Physical Oceanography Division of AOML during the summer of 2013 and focused on understanding the impacts of different types of El Niño events (“canonical” and “Modoki”) on sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic. The main result from the research is that Modoki El Niño;s fail to produce significant warming in the tropical North Atlantic, in contrast to the well known warming following canonical events.
Results from collaborative research conducted by AOML and NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) in response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, were recently published in Continental Shelf Research (December, 2013). PhOD oceanographers R. Smith, E. Johns, G. Goni, J. Trinanes, and R. Lumpkin, in collaboration with other researchers at AOML (M. Wood, C. Kelble, and S. Cummings) and SEFSC (J. Lamkin and S. Privoznik) report on the surface and subsurface connectivity across the eastern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) during July 2010.
In an article recently published in Climate Dynamics (Perez et al., 2013) , scientists in PhOD (R. Perez, R. Lumpkin, C. Schmid) described for the first time the mean vertical and cross-equatorial structure of the upper-ocean meridional currents in the Atlantic cold tongue region, using in situ observations including drifters, Argo, shipboard/lowered ADCP, and moored ADCP. This study involves collaborations with scientists from the University of Miami, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and several international institutions and makes use of data from several major tropical Atlantic field programs including NOAA’s PIRATA Northeast Extension.
In a recent article accepted for publication in the Journal of Climate, scientists in PhOD, S.-K. Lee (CIMAS) and C. Wang collaborated with R. Mechoso and D. Neelin, both at UCLA, to explore why the southern subtropical anticyclones are notably stronger in the austral winter than in summer, which is in contrast with the Northern Hemisphere (NH) in which subtropical anticyclones are more intense in summer according to the monsoon heating paradigm. They performed model experiments to show that during the boreal summer enhanced tropical convection activity in the NH plays important roles in strengthening the southern subtropical anticyclones.
In a recent study by scientists at Boston University, PHOD, and NCAR, a new mechanism was uncovered for initiating ENSO events wherein SLP-generated North Pacific trade winds induce subsurface heat content changes that serve as precursors to El Ninos. This trade-wind charging mechanism of the equatorial Pacific is fundamentally different from any previously diagnosed, and studies examining the surface and subsurface ocean dynamics associated with this mechanism are underway.
Scientists at PHOD developed a synthetic method, which combines high-density expendable bathythermograph (XBT) temperature data along the AX08 XBT transect (which runs between Cape Town and NYC) with altimetric sea level anomalies, to estimate the variability of the off-equatorial currents, such as the North Equatorial Countercurrent and the North Equatorial Undercurrent, on seasonal to interannual timescales. Understanding how the ocean dynamics is liked to anomalies of temperature and wind-stress in the tropical Atlantic is critical to understand the climate and weather variability in the adjacent continental areas.
Using over 30 years of observations from drogued, satellite-tracked surface drifting buoys, Lumpkin and Johnson (2013) developed a methodology to map seasonally-varying surface currents at 1/2 degree resolution. Results from this study can be used to better understand how the ocean transports properties like heat, salt, and passive tracers, and serves as a reference to study changes in ocean currents over time. One key result from this study is the global distribution of mean, seasonal and eddy kinetic energy, which totals 4.6x1017J in the upper 30 m of the ocean and reveals the presence of three large eddy “deserts”, one in the Atlantic Ocean and the other two in the Pacific.
Is there an optimal ENSO pattern that enhances large-scale atmospheric processes conducive to tornado outbreaks in the U.S?
The record-breaking U.S. tornado outbreaks in the spring of 2011 prompt the need to identify long-term climate signals that could potentially provide seasonal predictability for U.S. tornado outbreaks. A new research led by scientists in the Physical Oceanography Division of NOAA-AOML used both observations and model experiments to show that a positive phase Trans-Niño may be one such climate signal.
Satellite-derived Heat Content Product Developed at AOML Helps to Understand The Differences in Intensity Between Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Katrina
A news article that appeared on August 27 shows the ocean conditions in the Gulf of Mexico during hurricanes Katrina (August 2005) and Isaac (August 2012). The ocean conditions are depicted by the upper ocean heat content derived from satellite altimetry using a methodology developed at NOAA/AOML. The upper ocean heat content had larger values during Katrina mainly due to an anticyclonic warm ring and an extended Loop Current. These conditions, not found during the passage of Hurricane Isaac, partly contributed to the intensification of Katrina.