On the Mechanisms Driving Latent Heat Flux Variations in the Northwest Tropical Atlantic


Pablo Fernández (LMD): On the Mechanisms Driving Latent Heat Flux Variations in the Northwest Tropical Atlantic

Sorbonne Université  4 place Jussieu  75005  Paris  Sorbonne Université LOCEAN Couloir 45-55 4e étage pièce 417

Date 30/01/2024
Organisateur LOCEAN


The Northwest Tropical Atlantic (NWTA) is a region with complex surface ocean circulation. The most prominent feature is the North Brazil Current (NBC) and its retroflection at 8ºN that leads to the formation of numerous mesoscale eddies known as NBC rings. The NWTA also receives the outflow of the Amazon River, generating freshwater plumes that can extend up to 100,000 km2. These two processes affect the spatial variability of the region’s surface latent heat flux (LHF). First, the presence of surface freshwater modifies the vertical stratification of the ocean limiting the amount of heat that can be released to the atmosphere. Second, they create a highly heterogeneous mesoscale sea-surface temperature (SST) field that directly influences near-surface atmospheric circulation. These effects are illustrated by observations from the ElUcidating the RolE of Cloud-Circulation Coupling in ClimAte – Ocean Atmosphere (EUREC4A-OA) and Atlantic Tradewind Ocean-Atmosphere Interaction Campaign (ATOMIC) experiments, satellite and reanalysis data. We
decompose the LHF budget into several terms controlled by different atmospheric and oceanic processes to identify the mechanisms leading to LHF changes. We find LHF variations of up to 160Wm2, of which 100Wm2 are associated with wind speed changes and 40Wm2 with SST variations. Surface currents or stratification-change associated heat release remain as second-order contributions with LHF variations of less than 10Wm2 each. The results highlight the importance of considering these three components to properly characterize LHF variability at different spatial scales.

Informations dates et horaires

Date & Time: Tue Jan 30 2024 11:00:00 GMT+0100 (Central European Standard Time)
Room: 417, 45-55 4th floor (LOCEAN)