29 Sep 2022
 | 29 Sep 2022

The rate of information transfer as a measure of ocean-atmosphere interactions

David Docquier, Stéphane Vannitsem, and Alessio Bellucci

Abstract. Exchanges of energy between the ocean and atmosphere are of large importance in regulating the climate system. Here we apply for the first time a relatively novel approach, the rate of information transfer, to quantify interactions between the ocean surface and lower atmosphere over the period 1988–2017 at monthly time scale. More specifically, we investigate dynamical dependencies between sea-surface temperature (SST), SST tendency and turbulent heat flux in satellite observations. We find a strong two-way influence between SST / SST tendency and turbulent heat flux in many regions of the world, with largest values in eastern tropical Pacific and Atlantic oceans, as well as in western boundary currents. The total number of regions with a significant influence of turbulent heat flux on SST and on SST tendency is reduced when considering the three variables, suggesting an overall stronger ocean influence compared to the atmosphere. We also find a relatively strong influence of turbulent heat flux taken one month before on SST. Additionally, an increase in the magnitude of the rate of information transfer and in the number of regions with significant influence is observed when looking at interannual and decadal time scales, compared to monthly time scale.

David Docquier et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-942', Anonymous Referee #1, 26 Nov 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', David Docquier, 19 Jan 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-942', Milan Palus, 11 Dec 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', David Docquier, 19 Jan 2023

David Docquier et al.

Model code and software

Liang Index to quantify ocean-atmosphere interactions (v1.1) David Docquier

David Docquier et al.


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Short summary
The climate system is strongly regulated by interactions between the ocean and atmosphere. However, many uncertainties remain in the understanding of these interactions. Our analysis uses a relatively novel approach to quantify causal links between the ocean surface and lower atmosphere based on satellite observations. We find that both the ocean and atmosphere influence each other, but with varying intensity depending on the region, demonstrating the power of causal methods.