Climate Dynamics

, Volume 44, Issue 7–8, pp 2119–2136 | Cite as

Interannual variability of the Arabian Sea Warm Pool: observations and governing mechanisms

  • R. R. Rao
  • V. Jitendra
  • M. S. GirishKumar
  • M. Ravichandran
  • S. S. V. S. Ramakrishna


The near-surface layers in the Arabian Sea progressively warm up from February to early May resulting in the formation of pool of warm waters popularly known as the Arabian Sea Warm Pool (ASWP). The availability of high quality TMI sea surface temperature (SST) data for the years 1998–2010 is exploited to describe the evolution of the ASWP on seasonal and interannual time scales and to explain the associated mechanisms. The multi-year (1998–2010) averaged TMI SSTs during April–May show peak values of the ASWP in excess of 30 °C with its core >30.5 °C extending offshore as a well-marked southwestward tongue stretching from the southwest coast of India. The ASWP shows both seasonal and interannual variability in the evolution of spatio-temporal characteristics such as amplitude, phase and spatial extent. Among these 13 years, the ASWP was most (least) pronounced during 1998, 2003 and 2010 (1999, 2000, 2001 and 2008). The mechanisms that govern the observed interannual variability of the ASWP are examined addressing the most relevant issues such as—(1) dynamic pre-conditioning: background pycnocline topography influenced by the westward propagating Rossby waves during October–May, (2) thermal pre-conditioning: background SST/heat content signal during October–January influenced by the strength of the preceding year’s summer monsoon and the post-monsoon cyclones during October–December, (3) haline pre-conditioning: near-surface vertical salinity stratification during November–February influenced by the advection of low saline waters from the Bay of Bengal, (4) influence of surface net heat flux forcing during February–May, and (5) influence of El Nino/La Nina.


Arabian Sea Warm Pool Interannual variability Dynamic pre-conditioning Thermal pre-conditioning Haline pre-conditioning Surface net heat flux El Nino and La Nina 



Highest appreciation is placed on record for the excellent compilation of all the data sets utilized in this study by several persons and organizations. Graphics were generated using Ferret. The encouragement and the facilities provided by the Department of Meteorology and Oceanography, Andhra University and the Director of INCOIS are gratefully appreciated. This research is supported through a project funded by INDOMOD-SATCORE, INCOIS, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • R. R. Rao
    • 1
  • V. Jitendra
    • 1
  • M. S. GirishKumar
    • 2
  • M. Ravichandran
    • 2
  • S. S. V. S. Ramakrishna
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Meteorology and OceanographyAndhra UniversityVisakhapatnamIndia
  2. 2.Indian National Centre for Ocean Information ServicesHyderabadIndia

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