Articles | Volume 12, issue 1
Research article
15 Jan 2016
Research article |  | 15 Jan 2016

Modeling the ocean and atmosphere during an extreme bora event in northern Adriatic using one-way and two-way atmosphere–ocean coupling

M. Ličer, P. Smerkol, A. Fettich, M. Ravdas, A. Papapostolou, A. Mantziafou, B. Strajnar, J. Cedilnik, M. Jeromel, J. Jerman, S. Petan, V. Malačič, and S. Sofianos

Abstract. We have studied the performances of (a) a two-way coupled atmosphere–ocean modeling system and (b) one-way coupled ocean model (forced by the atmosphere model), as compared to the available in situ measurements during and after a strong Adriatic bora wind event in February 2012, which led to extreme air–sea interactions. The simulations span the period between January and March 2012. The models used were ALADIN (Aire Limitée Adaptation dynamique Développement InterNational) (4.4 km resolution) on the atmosphere side and an Adriatic setup of Princeton ocean model (POM) (1°∕30 × 1°∕30 angular resolution) on the ocean side. The atmosphere–ocean coupling was implemented using the OASIS3-MCT model coupling toolkit. Two-way coupling ocean feedback to the atmosphere is limited to sea surface temperature. We have compared modeled atmosphere–ocean fluxes and sea temperatures from both setups to platform and CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth) measurements from three locations in the northern Adriatic. We present objective verification of 2 m atmosphere temperature forecasts using mean bias and standard deviation of errors scores from 23 meteorological stations in the eastern part of Italy. We show that turbulent fluxes from both setups differ up to 20 % during the bora but not significantly before and after the event. When compared to observations, two-way coupling ocean temperatures exhibit a 4 times lower root mean square error (RMSE) than those from one-way coupled system. Two-way coupling improves sensible heat fluxes at all stations but does not improve latent heat loss. The spatial average of the two-way coupled atmosphere component is up to 0.3 °C colder than the one-way coupled setup, which is an improvement for prognostic lead times up to 20 h. Daily spatial average of the standard deviation of air temperature errors shows 0.15 °C improvement in the case of coupled system compared to the uncoupled. Coupled and uncoupled circulations in the northern Adriatic are predominantly wind-driven and show no significant mesoscale differences.

Short summary
We compare the northern Adriatic response to an extreme bora event, as simulated by one-way and two-way (i.e. with ocean feedback to the atmosphere) atmosphere-ocean coupling. We show that two-way coupling yields significantly better estimates of heat fluxes, most notably sensible heat flux, across the air-sea interface. When compared to observations in the northern Adriatic, two-way coupled system consequently leads to a better representation of ocean temperatures throughout the event.