The Effect of Diurnal Sea Surface Temperature Warming on Climatological Air–Sea Fluxes Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Diurnal sea surface warming affects the fluxes of latent heat, sensible heat, and upwelling longwave radiation. Diurnal warming most typically reaches maximum values of 3°C, although very localized events may reach 7°–8°C. An analysis of multiple years of diurnal warming over the global ice-free oceans indicates that heat fluxes determined by using the predawn sea surface temperature can differ by more than 100% in localized regions over those in which the sea surface temperature is allowed to fluctuate on a diurnal basis. A comparison of flux climatologies produced by these two analyses demonstrates that significant portions of the tropical oceans experience differences on a yearly average of up to 10 W m?2. Regions with the highest climatological differences include the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, as well as the equatorial western and eastern Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the western coasts of Central America and North Africa. Globally the difference is on average 4.45 W m?2. The difference in the evaporation rate globally is on the order of 4% of the total ocean–atmosphere evaporation. Although the instantaneous, year-to-year, and seasonal fluctuations in various locations can be substantial, the global average differs by less than 0.1 W m?2 throughout the entire 10-yr time period. A global heat budget that uses atmospheric datasets containing diurnal variability but a sea surface temperature that has removed this signal may be underestimating the flux to the atmosphere by a fairly constant value.

publication date

  • April 15, 2013