The Barrier Layer of the Atlantic warm pool: Formation mechanism and influence on the mean climate Academic Article uri icon


  • Many coupled general circulation models (CGCMs) tend to overestimate the salinity in the Atlantic warm pool or the Northwestern Tropical Atlantic (NWTA) and underestimate the surface salinity in the subtropical salinity maxima region. Most of these models also suffer from a sea-surface temperature (SST) bias in the NWTA region, leading to suggestions that the upper ocean salinity stratification may need to be improved in order to improve the barrier layer (BL) simulations and thus the SST through BL-SST-intertropical convergence zone feedbacks. In the present study, we use a CGCM to perform a set of idealised numerical experiments to test and understand the sensitivity of the BL and consequently SST in the NWTA region to freshwater flux and hence the upper ocean salinity stratification. We find that the BL of the NWTA is sensitive to upper ocean salinity changes in the Amazon river discharge region and the subtropical salinity maxima region. The BL phenomenon is further manifested by the formation of winter temperature inversions in our model simulations, the maximum magnitude of inversions being about 0.2 8C. The atmospheric response causes a statistically significant reduction of mean precipitation and SST in the equatorial Atlantic region and helps improve the respective biases by 10-15%. In the region of improved BL simulation, the SST change is positive and in the right direction of bias correction, albeit weak. 2012 K. Balaguru et al.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Balaguru, K., Chang, P., Saravanan, R., & Jang, C. J.

citation count

  • 35

complete list of authors

  • Balaguru, K||Chang, P||Saravanan, R||Jang, CJ

publication date

  • August 2012