Projections of future climate are sensitive to the representation of upper-ocean diurnal variability, including the diurnal cycle of winds. A new study performed by researchers from the University of Colorado – Boulder, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory, used both mooring and statistical data to describe how the diurnal cycle of surface winds in tropical oceans vary over the course of a year. CPO’s Climate Variability & Predictability (CVP) program-funded scientists Bruce Cornuelle (Scripps) and Aneesh Subramanian (CU Boulder) collaborated in this study.
Featured in “Remote Sensing of Ocean Surface Winds”, a Special Issue of Remote Sensing, the study shows that meridional winds have a larger diurnal variability than zonal winds, especially over the tropical Pacific, where the variability in zonal winds is overall weaker compared to other basins. Likewise, the overall larger differences through the year were found in the meridional wind component, indicating that the amplitude and phasing of diurnal winds in the tropical oceans are not uniform in time. These results show that quantifying annual modulation of the diurnal signal can help better understand diurnal variability in surface winds, including relevant mechanisms and implications for air–sea interactions.
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