Atmospheric boundary layer rolls: Quantification of their effect on the hydrodynamics in the German Bight


Atmospheric boundary layer rolls and their impact on upper ocean circulation were investigated using a combination of two high-resolution data sources: (1) data from the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) onboard ENVISAT with a spatial sampling of approximately 500 m × 500 m and (2) continuous observations taken at the research platform FINO 1 with 2 min temporal sampling at eight heights between 33 and 100 m. The parallel analysis of instantaneous image data in combination with the FINO 1 time series enabled us to quantify both the spatial and temporal dynamics of mesoscale and submesoscale wind variations. The influence of these variations with different temporal and spatial scales on the hydrodynamics of the German Bight was addressed using outputs from a three-dimensional circulation model. It was demonstrated that while the coupling between wind and tidal forcing triggered substantial responses at mesoscales, the response of surface currents and sea surface temperature to the atmospheric boundary layer rolls appeared relatively weak. However, these ocean surface responses closely follow the surface footprint of the atmospheric boundary layer rolls, the signatures of which become more pronounced in the absence of strong tidal flows.
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