Local atmospheric response to warm mesoscale ocean eddies in the Kuroshio–Oyashio Confluence region

Shusaku Sugimoto, Kenji Aono, Shin Fukui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


In the extratropical regions, surface winds enhance upward heat release from the ocean to atmosphere, resulting in cold surface ocean: surface ocean temperature is negatively correlated with upward heat flux. However, in the western boundary currents and eddy-rich regions, the warmer surface waters compared to surrounding waters enhance upward heat release–a positive correlation between upward heat release and surface ocean temperature, implying that the ocean drives the atmosphere. The atmospheric response to warm mesoscale ocean eddies with a horizontal extent of a few hundred kilometers remains unclear because of a lack of observations. By conducting regional atmospheric model experiments, we show that, in the Kuroshio–Oyashio Confluence region, wintertime warm eddies heat the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL), and accelerate westerly winds in the near-surface atmosphere via the vertical mixing effect, leading to wind convergence around the eastern edge of eddies. The warm-eddy-induced convergence forms local ascending motion where convective precipitation is enhanced, providing diabatic heating to the atmosphere above MABL. Our results indicate that warm eddies affect not only near-surface atmosphere but also free atmosphere, and possibly synoptic atmospheric variability. A detailed understanding of warm eddy–atmosphere interaction is necessary to improve in weather and climate projections.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11871
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1


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