Air-sea coupling in the Hawaiian Archipelago

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Joao Marcos Souza, Brian Powell and Dax Mattheus, Univ. of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, United States
A coupled numerical model is used to investigate the ocean-atmosphere interaction in the lee of the Hawaiian archipelago. The wind curl generated by the island blocking of the trade winds is known to give rise to ocean eddies; however, the impact of the sea surface temperature (SST) and velocity fronts associated with these eddies on the atmosphere is less understood. The main coupling mechanisms are: (i) changes in the near-surface stability and surface stress, (ii) vertical transfer of momentum from higher atmospheric levels to the ocean surface due to an increase of the turbulence in the boundary layer, (iii) secondary circulations associated with perturbations in the surface atmospheric pressure over the SST fronts, and (iv) the impact of the oceanic eddy currents on the net momentum transferred between the atmosphere and the ocean. To assess the relative contribution from each process, a coupled simulation between the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) and the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) models is conducted for the main Hawaiian Islands. The impact of the coupling, the perturbation of the mean wind pattern, and the different spatial scales involved in the air-sea exchanges of momentum and heat are explored.