Between 19 and 22 January 2014, a baroclinic wave moving eastward from the Atlantic Ocean generated a cut-off low over the Strait of Gibraltar and was responsible for the subsequent intensification of an extra-tropical cyclone. This system exhibited tropical-like features in the following stages of its life cycle and remained active for approximately 80 h, moving along the Mediterranean Sea from west to east, eventually reaching the Adriatic Sea. Two different modeling approaches, which are comparable in terms of computational cost, are analyzed here to represent the cyclone evolution. First, a multi-physics ensemble using different microphysics and turbulence parameterization schemes available in the WRF (weather research and forecasting) model is employed. Second, the COAWST (coupled ocean–atmosphere wave sediment transport modeling system) suite, including WRF as an atmospheric model, ROMS (regional ocean modeling system) as an ocean model, and SWAN (simulating waves in nearshore) as a wave model, is used. The advantage of using a coupled modeling system is evaluated taking into account air–sea interaction processes at growing levels of complexity. First, a high-resolution sea surface temperature (SST) field, updated every 6 h, is used to force a WRF model stand-alone atmospheric simulation. Later, a two-way atmosphere–ocean coupled configuration is employed using COAWST, where SST is updated using consistent sea surface fluxes in the atmospheric and ocean models. Results show that a 1D ocean model is able to reproduce the evolution of the cyclone rather well, given a high-resolution initial SST field produced by ROMS after a long spin-up time. Additionally, coupled simulations reproduce more accurate (less intense) sea surface heat fluxes and a cyclone track and intensity, compared with a multi-physics ensemble of standalone atmospheric simulations.
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