Surface ocean response to synoptic-scale variability in wind stress and heat fluxes off south-central Chile

Aguirre, C; Garreaud, R. D.; Rutllant, J.A.


The effect of the high frequency (synoptic) variability of wind and heat fluxes upon the surface ocean off south-central Chile (west coast of South America) is investigated using a regional ocean model. We focus our analysis in austral summer, when the regional wind experiences significant day-to-day variability superimposed on a mean, upwelling favorable flow. To evaluate the nature and magnitude of these effects, we performed three identical simulations except for the surface forcing: the climatological run, with long-term monthly mean wind-stresses and heat fluxes; the wind-synoptic run, with daily wind stresses and climatological heat fluxes; and the full-synoptic run, with daily wind-stresses and daily fluxes. The mean currents and surface geostrophic EKE fields show no major differences between simulations, and agree well with those observed in this ocean area. Nevertheless, substantially more ageostrophic EKE is found in the simulations which include synoptic variability of wind-stresses, impacting the total surface EKE and diffusivities, particularly south of Punta Lavapie (37 degrees S), where the lack of major currents implies low levels of geostrophic EKE. Summer mean SSTs are similar in all simulations and agree with observations, but SST variability along the coast is larger in the runs including wind-stress synoptic variability, suggesting a rather linear response of the ocean to cycles of southerly wind strengthening and relaxation. We found that coastal SST variability does not change significantly in the first tenths of kilometers from the shore when including daily heat fluxes, highlighting the prominent role of wind-driven upwelling cycles. In contrast, in the offshore region situated beyond the 50 km coastal strip, it is necessary to include synoptic variability in the heat fluxes to account for a realistic SST variability. (C) 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Título según WOS: Surface ocean response to synoptic-scale variability in wind stress and heat fluxes off south-central Chile
Volumen: 65
Fecha de publicación: 2014
Página de inicio: 64
Página final: 85
Idioma: English


Notas: ISI