Mesoscale and Submesoscale Air-Sea Coupling

mesoscale and submesoscale air sea coupling

After general remarks about the state of climate science, with the one hopeful path of unwrapping its layers of complexity one by one with careful process studies, the scientific history of ocean-atmosphere interaction will be reviewed. The presentation will then focus on the important discoveries, in the past decade or so, of how oceanic surface heterogeneity at the eddy scale imprints itself on the atmosphere. This leads to slowly-evolving spatial modulations of surface buoyancy and momentum fluxes that generate "secondary circulations" in both media near the air-sea interface, with net climate effects both in oceanic eddy energy level and, potentially, in marine cloud pattern formation. Professor McWilliams received his college degrees in Applied Mathematics: a B.S. (with honors) in 1968 from Caltech and an M.S. in 1969 and Ph.D. in 1971 from Harvard. After holding a Research Fellowship in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics at Harvard (1971-74), he worked in the Oceanography Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), where he became a Senior Scientist in 1980. In 1994 he became the Louis B. Slichter Professor of Earth Sciences in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and the Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics at UCLA, while retaining a part-time appointment at NCAR. In 2002, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Originally presented November 13, 2019, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California as part of the Center for Climate Sciences Distinguished Climate Lectures series.

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