Exchange of heat and momentum between the atmosphere and the ocean

A minimal model of decadal oscillations

B. Gallego*, P. Cessi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)


A model of the large-scale interaction between the troposphere and the upper ocean, wind-driven circulation is formulated. Simplified parametrizations, built upon the conservation of global heat and momentum, relate the atmospheric eddy heat and momentum fluxes to the zonally averaged oceanic and atmospheric temperatures. The formulation shows that the wind-driven circulation influences the winds by controlling the strength of the oceanic northward heat transport, and thus the atmospheric northward heat transport and temperature distribution. Because the ocean takes decades to adjust to changes in the winds, the coupled system equilibrates into a state which is periodic in time, rather than steady. The period is linearly proportional to the transit time of long Rossby waves across the basin, and thus is of the order of decades for large-scale basins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-489
Number of pages11
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2000
Externally publishedYes

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