The effects of mesoscale ocean-atmosphere coupling on the large-scale ocean circulation

Andrew Mc C. Hogg, William K. Dewar, Pavel Berloff, Sergey Kravtsov, David K. Hutchinson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    53 Citations (Scopus)


    Small-scale variation in wind stress due to ocean-atmosphere interaction within the atmospheric boundary layer alters the temporal and spatial scale of Ekman pumping driving the double-gyre circulation of the ocean. A high-resolution quasigeostrophic (QG) ocean model, coupled to a dynamic atmospheric mixed layer, is used to demonstrate that, despite the small spatial scale of the Ekman-pumping anomalies, this phenomenon significantly modifies the large-scale ocean circulation. The primary effect is to decrease the strength of the nonlinear component of the gyre circulation by approximately 30%-40%. This result is due to the highest transient Ekman-pumping anomalies destabilizing the flow in a dynamically sensitive region close to the western boundary current separation. The instability of the jet produces a flux of potential vorticity between the two gyres that acts to weaken both gyres.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4066-4082
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Climate
    Issue number15
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009


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