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Mesoscale and Frontal-Scale Air-Sea Interactions Workshop

Boulder, Colorado and Virtual


Observational and high-resolution modeling studies have identified a fundamental regime of ocean-atmosphere coupling associated with spatial variability of sea surface temperature, ocean surface currents, and surface waves at oceanic mesoscale and submesoscale (between 1 and 1000 km). These studies demonstrated that the ocean eddy/front-forced variability of surface heat and momentum fluxes drives a response in the local atmospheric and oceanic boundary layers and influences the downstream development of synoptic-scale weather systems, precipitation, and the large-scale variability of the jet stream. Significant coupled feedbacks onto the ocean affect the basin-scale circulation, ocean eddy energy, and air-sea gas exchange. The demonstrated impacts of the coupled interactions on the large-scale atmosphere-ocean environment suggest a critical new path forward for improving our understanding and observation of the air-sea transition zone and Earth’s climate system.

A recent review paper by the US CLIVAR Mesoscale and Frontal-Scale Air-Sea Interactions Working Group synthesized the progress in understanding coupled ocean-atmosphere interactions due to the ocean mesoscale (10.1175/JCLI-D-21-0982.1). The goal of this workshop is to make use of this progress to identify gaps in understanding, facilitating, and improving comparison of observations and modeling, and to build collaborations to respond to community needs identified in the review paper and by the upcoming US CLIVAR Air-Sea Transition Zone (ASTZ) study group’s report. 


The workshop endeavors to synthesize the contributions of a wide range of research areas pertinent to oceanic mesoscale and submesoscale air-sea interactions and their relevance to climate, uniting in a coherent framework spanning oceanographic, atmospheric, and climate communities. Main goals of the workshop are to identify gaps and uncertainties in observations and models, initiate development of effective observing and modeling strategies, and put forward common diagnostics for satellite observations and coupled model experiments. 

Workshop discussion topics include:

  1. What are the current key gaps in understanding related to ocean mesoscale and submesoscale air-sea coupling and its impact on weather extremes, numerical weather prediction, and climate projections?
  2. Discuss potential outcomes of concerted modeling and observational programs focused on the air-sea transition zone (aka coupled ocean-atmosphere boundary layers)?
  3. What regions, observables, and time and space scales should be a focus of modeling and observations?
  4. What are key analysis approaches and diagnostics of air-sea coupling which could guide modeling and observational strategies, including time and space scale dependencies and specific variables and processes?
  5. What are the gaps in observations and modeling capability that need to be addressed to properly determine the role of the ocean mesoscale and submesoscale processes, surface current, and surface waves in weather and climate variability?
  6. Is there a need to improve data access with a central data catalog of relevant observations and model simulations? What key variables and timescales would need to be included?
  7. What upcoming international programs and collaborations can be leveraged for maximum impact?

Target Participants

This community workshop is open to participants with expertise in the following topics with emphasis on processes occurring on the oceanic mesoscale and submesoscale:

  1. Observations of atmosphere or ocean boundary layers or ocean surface processes, including emerging technologies;
  2. Satellite remote sensing, reanalysis products, and other gridded datasets;
  3. Regional to global high-resolution coupled modeling with a focus on the coupled boundary layers, and air-sea interactions, and process level understanding;
  4. Regional to global reanalyses, numerical weather prediction and climate modeling.


Boulder, Colorado and Virtual. March 6-8, 2023.

Workshop Format

The 2.5 day workshop will include a mix of plenary sessions, breakout sessions, and poster sessions. Invited and plenary talks will provide a review of the current understanding and challenges identified as discussion topics to motivate discussion between workshop participants during breakout sessions. The workshop will be held in-person (travel guidelines allowing) with virtual participation available.


A key outcome of the workshop is to foster interactions among diverse groups of national and international research communities. We will publish a community white paper and a workshop report in BAMS or EOS, focusing on future directions, including recommendations for optimal observing and modeling strategies and comparison, and data dissemination. 

The organizing committee will share results with the broader community through a workshop report.

Scientific Organizing Committee

Hyodae Seo, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (co-chair)
Larry O’Neill, Oregon State University (co-chair)
Alison Cobb, University of California San Diego/Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Baylor Fox-Kemper, Brown University
Ivy Frenger, GEOMAR
Sarah Gille, University of California San Diego/Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Justin Small, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Program Organizing Committee

Sam Coakley, US CLIVAR
Mike Patterson, US CLIVAR

Workshop Sponsors

Agency sponsors for the Mesoscale workshop

Meeting Menu





Poster Gallery

Abstract submission (Closed)

Register (Closed)

Registration Fees

General Registration: $200

Early Career Scientist: $100

Participants from Underrepresented Racial and/or Ethnic Groups: $100  

Fees are the same for in-person and virtual participants



Travel support for Early Career Scientists and Participants from Underrepresented Racial and/or Ethnic Groups: February 3, 2023

In-person registration: February 23, 2023

Virtual registration: March 2, 2023

Abstract Submission

Deadline for oral presentation abstract submission: January 23, 2023