The impact of coastal phytoplankton blooms on ocean-atmosphere thermal energy exchange: Evidence from a two-way coupled numerical modeling system

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Abstract

[1] A set of sensitivity experiments are performed with a two-way coupled and nested ocean-atmosphere forecasting system in order to deconvolve how dense phytoplankton stocks in a coastal embayment may impact thermal energy exchange processes. Monterey Bay simulations parameterizing solar shortwave transparency in the surface ocean as an invariant oligotrophic oceanic water type estimate consistently colder sea surface temperature (SST) than simulations utilizing more realistic, spatially varying shortwave attenuation terms based on satellite estimates of surface algal pigment concentration. These SST differences lead to an ∼88% increase in the cumulative turbulent thermal energy transfer from the ocean to the atmosphere over the three month simulation period. The result is a warmer simulated atmospheric boundary layer with respective local air temperature differences approaching ∼2°C. This study suggests that the retention of shortwave solar flux by ocean flora may directly impact even short-term forecasts of coastal meteorological variables.

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