New progress has been made in the study of multi-scale sea-air interactions

Recently, the reporter learned from the Frontier Science Center for Deep Sea Multi-Circle and Earth System of Ocean University of China/Key Laboratory of Physical Oceanography of the Ministry of Education that the scientific research team led by Wu Lixin, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Gan Bolan, winner of the National Natural Science Foundation of China Outstanding Young Science Fund Project, has made important progress in the field of mid-latitude multi-scale sea-air interaction, and for the first time in the world, the control mechanism of mid-latitude front-scale sea-air interaction on subbasin-scale subtropical modal water has been revealed by vortex analysis Earth system model. The research was published in the National Science Review.

Control mechanism of sea-air coupling driven by the Gulf Stream front on the formation of subtropical modal water in the North Atlantic Ocean University of China

As the world’s largest subtropical modal water, the North Atlantic subtropical modal water forms on the south side of the Gulf Stream and its extension, and plays an important role in global climate change and material energy transportation. The traditional subtropical modal water formation mechanism is mainly based on large-scale sea-air interactions characterized by the atmosphere driving the ocean, but the simulation effect of the climate model as a theoretical framework on subtropical modal water is not ideal, especially the low-resolution model will greatly underestimate the formation rate of subtropical modal water, and the reason behind it has been unclear.

Based on vortex-resolution Earth system model experiments, this study reveals the dominant role of front-scale air-sea coupling dominated by ocean-driven atmospheres on the formation of subtropical modal waters in the sub-basin scale North Atlantic.

The results show that the Gulf Stream front can increase the latent heat release of the sea surface by increasing the surface wind speed and enhancing the sea-air humidity difference, and its cumulative effect can significantly expand the outcrop area of the isodensity surface of the ocean subsurface, thereby promoting the formation of subtropical modal water. Using multi-source observation data and CMIP6 multi-resolution model data, it is further found that the improvement of ocean resolution in the sea-air coupling model, especially the depiction of the sea-air coupling process at the front scale, is the key to accurately simulating the volume and spatial distribution of subtropical modal water in the North Atlantic.

According to reports, this study changes the traditional understanding that “subtropical modal water is the product of large-scale sea-air interaction”, emphasizes the key role of front-scale sea-air interaction, provides a new perspective for in-depth understanding of the formation mechanism of modal water, and has important theoretical guiding significance for improving the current climate model in the simulation and prediction of modal water and its climate and ecological effects.

In this regard, the National Science Review invited Professor Shoshiro Minobe, former chairman of the Climate Dynamics Committee of the International Climate Variability and Predictability Research Program and a well-known marine and climatologist to write a highlight comment. He believes that the results have made important scientific contributions to the modified modal water simulation, and pointed out that accurate prediction of modal water changes is related to the frontier issues of climate change such as marine carbon sequestration and marine heat waves, and that improving the model resolution or improving the parameterization scheme of sea-air coupling is the key.

The study was jointly completed by experts and scholars from many scientific research institutions at home and abroad, highlighting the important influence of Chinese scientists in the field of mid-latitude multi-scale sea-air interaction research. The research has been supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China Outstanding Young Science Fund and the National Natural Science Foundation of China Major Research Program. (Source: China Science News, Liao Yang, Zuo Wei)

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