The physics of the Indo–Pacific warm pool are investigated using a coupled ocean atmosphere general circulation model. The model, developed at the Max-Planck-Institut fair Meteorologic, Hamburg, does not employ a flux correction and is used with atmospheres at T42 and T21 resolution. The simulations are compared with observations, and the model's mean and seasonal heat budgets and physics in the Indo–Pacific warm pool region are explored for the T42 resolution run.
Despite the simulation of a split intertropical convergence zone, and of a cold tongue that extends too far to the west, simulated warm pool temperatures are consistent with observations at T42 resolution, while the T21 resolution yields a cold bias of 1K. At T42 resolution the seasonal migration of the warm pool is reproduced reasonably well, as are the surface heat fluxes, winds, and clouds. However, simulated precipitation is too small compared to observations, implying that the surface density flux is dominated by fluxes of heat.
In the Pacific portion of the warm pool, the average net heat gain of the ocean amounts to 30–40 W m−2. In the northern branch, this heat gain is balanced by vertical advection, while in the southern branch, zonal, meridional, and vertical advection cool the ocean at approximately equal rates. At the equator, the surface heat flux is balanced by zonal and vertical advection and vertical mixing. The Indonesian and Indian Ocean portions of the warm pool receive from the atmosphere 30 and 50 W m−2, respectively, and this flux is balanced by vertical advection. The cooling due to vertical advection stems from numerical diffusion associated with the upstream scheme, the coarse vertical resolution of the ocean model, and near-inertial oscillations forced by high-frequency atmospheric variability.
The seasonal migration of the warm pool is largely a result of the seasonal variability of the net surface heat flux, horizontal and vertical advections are of secondary importance and increase the seasonal range of surface temperature slightly everywhere in the warm pool, with the exception of its southern branch. There, advection reduces the effect of the surface flux. The seasonal variability of the surface heat flux in turn is mainly determined by the shortwave radiation, but evaporation modifies the signal significantly. The annual cycles of reduction of solar radiation due to clouds and SST evolve independently from each other in the Pacific portion of the warm pool; that is, clouds have little impact on SST. In the Indian Ocean, however, clouds limit the maximum SST attained during the annual cycle.
In the western Pacific and Indonesian portion of the warm pool, penetrative shortwave radiation leads to convective mixing by heating deeper levels at a greater rate than the surface, which experiences heat losses due to turbulent and longwave heat fluxes. In the deeper levels, there is no mechanism to balance the heating due to penetrative radiation, except convection and its attendant mixing. In the Indian Ocean, however. the resulting vertical heating profile due to the surface fluxes decreases monotonically with depth and does not support convective mixing. Concurrently, the warm pool is shallower in the Indian Ocean compared with the western Pacific, indicating that convective mixing due to penetrative radiation is important in maintaining the vertical structure of the Pacific portion of the warm pool.