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The importance of air-sea interaction in seasonal to interannual climate prediction is well documented. The significance of air-sea coupled processes in mesoscale and synoptic scale weather and ocean prediction on time scales from hours to days is not well understood. Mesoscale to synoptic scale air-sea interaction may be important in regions of large sea surface temperature (SST) gradient, such as the Gulf Stream off the U.S. east coast, the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico, the Kuroshio Current off the east coast of Japan, and the California Coastal Current off the U.S. west coast. Mesoscale air-sea interactions are also thought to be important in tropical cyclones and during convective processes in tropical oceans such as the Western Pacific Warm Pool. However, significance of mesoscale to synoptic scale air-sea interactions over both coastal and tropical oceans has yet to be quantified.

Mesoscale coupled models (MCM) are needed for sensitivity studies of mesoscale air-sea interactions and ultimately as advanced marine and weather forecast tools. However, in contrast to the availability of dozens of large-scale and global coupled models, MCMs are still in their infancy. Documentations of MCMs are extremely limited, and most of them are in conference preprints or technical reports.

Development of MCM at NCSU/CFDL began in 1992. An early version of the NCSU MCM was reported in 1994 at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego, California. This preliminary version of MCM used a three-dimensional mesoscale atmospheric model developed at the NCSU Mesoscale Dynamics Lab (directed by Prof. Y.-L. Lin) and a reduced gravity ocean model developed by me. Since the reduced gravity ocean model can only be applied to deep ocean, the coupled study was on a warm core oceanic eddy. In 1996, the reduced gravity ocean model was replaced by the three-dimensional Princeton Ocean Model (POM) . This new version, referred to as MCM3D version 1, has been tested over flat bottom ocean and sloping continental shelf. An abstract on MCM3D was published in 1996 in the preprint volume of the 7th Conference on Mesoscale Processes. Click the word image to view a still image depicting the coupled model results. Click the title image at the beginning of this page to view an animation of the coupled model results, which depict the evolution of a warm-core oceanic eddy (thermal and flow structure) and the mesoscale atmospheric features (perturbation pressure, vertical velocity, horizontal flow and streamlines) coupled to the warm-core eddy. A coastal version of MCM3D is under development and is anticipated to be completed by June 1998.

Air-sea coupling

Estuary model

Hurricane effect

Storm surge

Oceanic fronts


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