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Preliminary estimates of the time-variant heat budget in the Tropical Atlantic

Claudia Schmid(1) , Gustavo Goni(1) , and Rick Lumpkin(1)

(1) NOAA/AOML, 4301 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149, United States


A better understanding of the mixed layer heat budget in the tropical Atlantic is important for climate research and prediction. Of particular interest are regions where the heat balance is not dominated by the surface heat fluxes. Such regions include, for example, the equatorial cold tongue and the coastal upwelling regions off Africa. The approach is based on the analysis of a wide range of insitu and satellite observations covering the years 1997-2005. Hydrographic profiles are used to derive the a time series of the monthly heat storage rate. Where the temporal resolution is poor these observations are augmented by sea surface temperatures and sea surface height anomalies from satellites. The oceanic heat transports are derived from drifter observations in conjunction with geostrophic velocities from altimetric fields and Ekman currents from scatterometer winds. Preliminary results from this analysis show that good estimates of the heat budget can be derived with this approach. For example, in the tropical South Atlantic (10-3S, 15-0W) the difference between the heat storage rate and the net surface heat flux is on the order of 40 W/m^2 in boreal summer, and the peak of the heat storage rate lags behind the peak of the surface flux by about a month. When taking the advection of heat into account the phase shift is gone in most years and the difference in the boreal summer peaks is reduced to less then 10 W/m^2 in most years.



                 Last modified: 07.10.03