EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Sea-state dependency of air-sea fluxes for high winds in ECMWF Earth System Model

Jean Bidlot
Jean Bidlot
  • ECMWF, Coupled Processes Team, Reading, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (

The global analyses and medium range forecasts from the European Centre for Medium range Weather Forecasts rely on a state-of-the-art Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) system. To best represent the air-sea exchanges, it is tightly coupled to an ocean wave model.  As part of ECMWF approach to Earth System Model, it is also coupled to a global ocean model for all its forecasting systems from the medium range up to the seasonal time scale.

Because the feedback from and to the ocean can be significant, it is only in the fully coupled system that parameterisation for air-sea processes should be revisited. For instance, it is now accepted that the drag coefficient should generally attained maximum values for storm winds but should level or even decrease for very strong winds, namely in tropical cyclones or intense mid-latitude wind storms.

A modification of the wind input source was tested, whereby the Charnock coefficient estimated by the wave model and therefore the drag coefficient sharply reduce for large winds (> 30 m/s). As a consequence, ECMWF tendency to under predict strong tropical cyclones was sharply alleviated, in better agreement with observational evidence. This change is now planned for operational implementation with the next model cycle (CY47R1, June 2020).

Experimental evidences also point to a sea state/wind dependency of the heat and moisture fluxes.  Following an extension of the wind wave generation theory, a sea state dependent parameterisation for the roughness length scales for heat and humidity has been tested. Again, a proper assessment of the different parameterisations warrants the fully coupled system. Experimentations so far indicate the benefit of such change. Ongoing work aims at future operational implementation.

How to cite: Bidlot, J.: Sea-state dependency of air-sea fluxes for high winds in ECMWF Earth System Model, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-6074,, 2020


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