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The impact of atmosphere–ocean–wave coupling on the near-surface wind speed in forecasts of extratropical cyclones

Gentile, E. S. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6878-5145, Gray, S. L. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8658-362X, Barlow, J. F. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9022-6833, Lewis, H. W. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3581-6459 and Edwards, J. M. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5784-3218 (2021) The impact of atmosphere–ocean–wave coupling on the near-surface wind speed in forecasts of extratropical cyclones. Boundary-Layer Meteorology. ISSN 0006-8314

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s10546-021-00614-4

Abstract/Summary

Accurate modelling of air–sea surface exchanges is crucial for reliable extreme surface windspeed forecasts. While atmosphere-only weather forecast models represent ocean and wave effects through sea-state independent parametrizations, coupled multi-model systems capture sea-state dynamics by integrating feedbacks between the atmosphere, ocean and wave model components. Here, we investigate the sensitivity of extreme surface wind speeds to air–sea exchanges at the kilometre scale using coupled and uncoupled configurations of the Met Office’s UK Regional Coupled Environmental Prediction system. The case period includes the passage of extra-tropical cyclones Helen, Ali, and Bronagh, which brought maximum gusts of 36 ms−1 over the UK. Compared with the atmosphere-only results, coupling to the ocean decreases the domain-average sea-surface temperature by up to 0.5 K. Inclusion of coupling to waves reduce the 98th percentile 10-m wind speed by up to 2 ms−1 as young, growing wind waves reduce the wind speed by increasing the sea-surface aerodynamic roughness. Impacts on gusts are more modest, with local reductions of up to 1 ms−1, due to enhanced boundary-layer turbulence which partially offsets air–sea momentum transfer. Using a new drag parametrization based on the Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment 4.0 parametrization, with a cap on the neutral drag coefficient and reduction for wind speeds exceeding 27 ms−1, the atmosphere-only model achieves equivalent impacts on 10-m wind speeds and gusts as from coupling to waves. Overall, the new drag parametrization achieves the same 20% improvement in forecast 10-m wind-speed skill as coupling to waves, with the advantage of saving the computational cost of the ocean and wave models.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:97573
Publisher:Springer

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