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Tropical Ocean Evaporation/SST Sensitivity and It's Link to Water and Energy Budget Variations During ENSOThe continuing debate over feedback mechanisms governing tropical sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and tropical climate in general has highlighted the diversity of potential checks and balances within the climate system. Competing feedbacks due to changes in surface evaporation, water vapor, and cloud long- and shortwave radiative properties each may serve critical roles in stabilizing or destabilizing the climate system. It is also intriguing that even those climate variations having origins internal to the climate system - changes in ocean heat transport for example, apparently require complementary equilibrating effects by changes in atmospheric energy fluxes. Perhaps the best observational evidence of this is the relatively invariant nature of tropically averaged net radiation exiting the top-of-atmosphere (TOA) as measured by broadband satellite sensors over the past two decades. Thus, analyzing how these feedback mechanisms are operating within the context of current interannual variability may offer considerable insight for anticipating future climate change. In this paper we focus primarily on interannual variations of ocean evaporative fluxes and their significance for coupled water and energy cycles within the tropical climate system. In particular, we use both the da Silva estimates of surface fluxes (based on the Comprehensive Ocean Atmosphere Data Set, COADS) and numerical simulations from several global climate models to examine evaporation sensitivity to perturbations in SST associated with warm and cold ENSO events. The specific questions we address are as follows: (1) What recurring patterns of surface wind and humidity anomalies are present during ENSO and how do they combine to yield systematic evaporation anomalies?, (2) What is the resulting tropical ocean mean evaporation-SST sensitivity associated with this climate perturbation?, and (3) What role does this evaporation play in tropical heat and water balance over tropical oceanic regions? We use the da Silva ocean flux data to identify composite structure of departures of latent heat flux from climatology. We also show how these patterns arise out of associated wind and humidity anomaly distributions. Our preliminary work shows that evaporation sensitivity estimates from the da Silva / COADS data, computed for the tropical oceans (30 degrees N/S) are in the neighborhood of 5 to 6 W/square m K. Model estimates are also quite close to this figure. This rate is only slightly less than a rate corresponding to constant relative humidity; however, substantial regional departures from constant relative humidity are present. These patterns are robust and we relate the associated wind and humidity fluctuations noted in previous investigations to the derived evaporation anomalies. Finally, these results are interpreted with other data from the Earth radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE), Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) and NASA's Surface Radiation Budget (SRB) data set to characterize the tropical energetics of ENSO-related climate variability.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Robertson, Franklin R. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Marshall, Susan (North Carolina Univ. Charlotte, NC United States)
Oglesby, Robert (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Roads, John (Scripps Institution of Oceanography CA United States)
Sohn, Byung-Ju (Seoul National Univ. Korea, Republic of)
Arnold, James E.
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2001
Subject Category
Environment Pollution
Meeting Information
GEWEX 4th International Conference on the Global Energy and Water Cycle(Paris)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.