Atmospheric Forcing of the Winter Air–Sea Heat Fluxes over the Northern Red Sea

Vassilis P. Papadopoulos, Yasser Abualnaja, Simon A. Josey, Amy Bower, Dionysios E. Raitsos, Harilaos Kontoyiannis, Ibrahim Hoteit

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39 Scopus citations


The influence of the atmospheric circulation on the winter air–sea heat fluxes over the northern Red Sea is investigated during the period 1985–2011. The analysis based on daily heat flux values reveals that most of the net surface heat exchange variability depends on the behavior of the turbulent components of the surface flux (the sum of the latent and sensible heat). The large-scale composite sea level pressure (SLP) maps corresponding to turbulent flux minima and maxima show distinct atmospheric circulation patterns associated with each case. In general, extreme heat loss (with turbulent flux lower than −400 W m−2) over the northern Red Sea is observed when anticyclonic conditions prevail over an area extending from the Mediterranean Sea to eastern Asia along with a recession of the equatorial African lows system. Subcenters of high pressure associated with this pattern generate the required steep SLP gradient that enhances the wind magnitude and transfers cold and dry air masses from higher latitudes. Conversely, turbulent flux maxima (heat loss minimization with values from −100 to −50 W m−2) are associated with prevailing low pressures over the eastern Mediterranean and an extended equatorial African low that reaches the southern part of the Red Sea. In this case, a smooth SLP field over the northern Red Sea results in weak winds over the area that in turn reduce the surface heat loss. At the same time, southerlies blowing along the main axis of the Red Sea transfer warm and humid air northward, favoring heat flux maxima.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1685-1701
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2013


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