Graduation Year

2003

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Weisberg, Robert H.

Keywords

physical oceanography, warm pool

Abstract

The air-sea interaction thermodynamics of the western equatorial Pacific, the Earth's largest region of warm SST, is a major component of the global climate system. Along the equator, warm pool thermodynamics and momentum are influenced by equatorial ocean visco-inertial boundary layer dynamics that occur within a few degrees of the equator because of the sign reversal of the Coriolis force. Designed to study this system, COARE Enhanced Monitoring Array (EMA) observations of temperature, salinity, velocity, and surface meteorology were centered at 0, 156°E from February 1992 through April 1994. They sampled variability on the equator over larger space/time-scales than the concurrent Intensive Flux Array (IFA) centered at 2°S, 156°E. The EMA data are examined within the context of the larger scale equatorial Pacific and the El Niño conditions that occurred at that time.

There is a structural change in the equatorial Pacific near the dateline resulting from the winds that are strong, steady, and easterly in the east and generally weak, punctuated by westerly wind bursts, in the west. East of the dateline the EUC's speed and transport increases downstream, while in the west it tends to be zonally uniform, consistent with the extra-tropical ocean interior water pathways that tend to converge on the equator east of the dateline. At 0°, 156°E in the western Pacific deep, seasonal upwelling (appearing stronger after the peak of the 1991/92 El Niño than during the following weaker El Niño year) occurs within the thermocline in boreal summer with magnitudes as large as upwelling in the eastern Pacific cold tongue. This large upwelling is associated with large downward turbulent heat flux and large turbulent shear stress.

While the inferred mixing is quantitatively inconclusive because of unresolved potential errors, it is consistent with the visco-inertial boundary layer concepts from early theory [e.g. Arthur 1960; Robinson 1960; Stommel 1960; and Charney and Spiegel 1971]. These findings suggest that the equatorial thermodynamics differ from those of the IFA. Further process experimentation is necessary to quantify these results.

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