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Ocean-atmosphere interactions are complex and extend over a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. Among the key components of these interactions is the ocean-atmosphere (latent and sensible) turbulent heat flux (THF). Here, based on daily optimally-interpolated data from the extratropical Southern Hemisphere (south of 30°S) from a period 1985-2013, we analyze short-term variability and trends in THF and variables influencing it. It is shown that, in spite of climate-change-related positive trends in surface wind speeds over large parts of the Southern Ocean, the range of the THF variability has been decreasing due to decreasing air-water temperature and humidity differences. Occurrence frequency of very large heat flux events decreased accordingly. Remarkably, spectral analysis of the THF data reveals, in certain regions, robust periodicity at frequencies 0.03-0.04 day-1, corresponding exactly to frequencies of the baroclinic annular mode (BAM). Finally, it is shown that the THF is correlated with the position of the major fronts in sections of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current where the fronts are not constrained by the bottom topography and can adjust their position to the atmospheric and oceanic forcing, suggesting differential response of various sections of the Southern Ocean to the changing atmospheric forcing.
Herman, A. (2015). Trends and variability of the atmosphere-ocean turbulent heat flux in the extratropical Southern Hemisphere. Scientific Reports, 5. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep14900