Evidence for the existence of Persian Gulf Water and Red Sea Water in the Bay of Bengal
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The high-salinity water masses that originate in the North Indian Ocean are Arabian Sea High-Salinity Water (ASHSW), Persian Gulf Water (PGW), and Red Sea Water (RSW). Among them, only ASHSW has been shown to exist in the Bay of Bengal. We use CTD data from recent cruises to show that PGW and RSW also exist in the bay. The presence of RSW is marked by a deviation of the salinity vertical profile from a fitted curve at depths ranging from 500 to 1000 m; this deviation, though small (of the order of ~0.005 psu and therefore comparable to the CTD accuracy of 0.003 psu), is an order of magnitude larger than the ~0.0003 psu fluctuations associated with the background turbulence or instrument noise in this depth regime, allowing us to infer the existence of RSW throughout the bay. PGW is marked by the presence of a salinity maximum at 200–450 m; in the southwestern bay, PGW can be distinguished from the salinity maximum due to ASHSW because of the intervening Arabian Sea Salinity Minimum. This salinity minimum and the maximum associated with ASHSW disappear east and north of the south-central bay (85°E, 8°N) owing to mixing between the fresher surface waters that are native to the bay (Bay of Bengal Water or BBW) with the high-salinity ASHSW. Hence, ASHSW is not seen as a distinct water mass in the northern and eastern bay and the maximum salinity over most of the bay is associated with PGW. The surface water over most of the bay is therefore a mixture of ASHSW and the low-salinity BBW. As a corollary, we can also infer that the weak oxygen peak seen within the oxygen-minimum zone in the bay at a depth of 250–400 m is associated with PGW. The hydrographic data also show that these three high-salinity water masses are advected into the bay by the Summer Monsoon Current, which is seen to be a deep current extending to 1000 m. These deep currents extend into the northern bay as well, providing a mechanism for spreading ASHSW, PGW, and RSW throughout the bay.
KeywordsWater masses Indian Ocean Arabian Sea High-Salinity Water Persian Gulf Water Red Sea Water Oxygen minimum zone Summer Monsoon Current CTD
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