Diurnal Restratification Events in the Southeast Pacific Trade Wind Regime Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • This paper describes the occurrence of diurnal restratification events found in the southeast trade wind regime off northern Chile. This is a region where persistent marine stratus clouds are found and where there is a less than complete understanding of the dynamics that govern the maintenance of the sea surface temperature. A surface mooring deployed in the region provides surface meteorological, air–sea flux, and upper-ocean temperature, salinity, and velocity data. In the presence of steady southeast trade winds and strong evaporation, a warm, salty surface mixed layer is found in the upper ocean. During the year, these trade winds, at times, drop dramatically and surface heating leads to the formation of shallow, warm diurnal mixed layers over one to several days. At the end of such a low wind period, mean sea surface temperature is warmer. Though magnitudes of the individual diurnal warming events are consistent with local forcing, as judged by running a one-dimensional model, the net warming at the end of a low wind event is more difficult to predict. This is found to stem from differences between the observed and predicted near-inertial shear and the depths over which the warmed water is distributed. As a result, the evolution of SST has a dependency on these diurnal restratification events and on near-surface processes that govern the depth over which the heat gained during such events is distributed.

publication date

  • September 2014