Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 58, Issue 8, pp 1387–1396 | Cite as

Connection of sea level variability between the tropical western Pacific and the southern Indian Ocean during recent two decades

  • TianYu Wang
  • Yan Du
  • Wei Zhuang
  • JinBo Wang
Research Paper


Based on the merged satellite altimeter data and in-situ observations, as well as a diagnosis of linear baroclinic Rossby wave solutions, this study analyzed the rapidly rise of sea level/sea surface height (SSH) in the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans during recent two decades. Results show that the sea level rise signals in the tropical west Pacific and the southeast Indian Ocean are closely linked to each other through the pathways of oceanic waveguide within the Indonesian Seas in the form of thermocline adjustment. The sea level changes in the southeast Indian Ocean are strongly influenced by the low-frequency westward-propagating waves originated in the tropical Pacific, whereas those in the southwest Indian Ocean respond mainly to the local wind forcing. Analyses of the lead-lag correlation further reveal the different origins of interannual and interdecadal variabilities in the tropical Pacific. The interannual wave signals are dominated by the wind variability along the equatorial Pacific, which is associated with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation; whereas the interdecadal signals are driven mainly by the wind curl off the equatorial Pacific, which is closely related to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.


sea level/sea surface height waveguide pathway tropical Pacific south Indian Ocean interannual and interdecadal variabilities 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. An S I. 2008. Interannual variations of the tropical ocean instability wave and ENSO. J Clim, 21: 3680–3686CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Balmaseda M A, Vidard A, Anderson. 2008. The ECMWF Ocean Analysis System: ORA-S3. Mon Weather Rev, 136: 3018–3034CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bjerknes J. 1969. Atmospheric teleconnections from the equatorial Pacific. Mon Weather Rev, 97: 163–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cabanes C, Huck T, Verdiere A C. 2006. Contriburions of wind forcing and surface heating to interannual sea level variation in the Atlantic Ocean. J Phys Oceanogr, 36: 1739–1750CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Capotondi A, Alexander M A. 2001. Rossby waves in the tropical North Pacific and their role in decadal thermocline variability. J Phys Oceanogr, 31: 3496–3515CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Carton J A, Giese B S, Grodsky S A. 2005. Sea level rise and the warming of the oceans in the Simple Ocean Data Assimilation (SODA) ocean reanalysis. J Geophys Res, 110: C09006Google Scholar
  7. Cazenave A, Bonnefond P, Mercier F. 2002. Sea level variations in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea from satellite altimetry and tide gauges. Glob Planet Change, 34: 59–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cazenave A, Nerem R S. 2004. Present-day sea level change: observations and causes. Rev Geophys, doi: 10.1029/2003RG000139Google Scholar
  9. Chelton D B, Schlax M G. 1996. Global observations of oceanic Rossby waves. Science, 272: 234–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cheng X H, Qi Y Q. 2007. Trends of sea level variations in the South China Sea from merged altimetry data. Glob Planet Change, 52: 371–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cheng X H, Qi Y Q, Zhou W D. 2008. Trends of sea level variations in the Indo-Pacific warm pool. Glob Planet Change, 63: 57–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clarke R A, Liu X. 1993. Observations and dynamics of semiannual and annual sea levels near the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean boundary. J Phys Oceanogr, 23: 386–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Du Y, Xie S P. 2008. Role of atmospheric adjustments in the tropical Indian Ocean warming during the 20th century in climate models, Geophys Res Lett, 35: L08712CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Du Y, Qu T D. 2010. Three inflow pathways of the Indonesian throughflow as seen from the simple ocean data assimilation. Dynam Atmos Oceans, 50: 233–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Du Y, Fang G H. 2011. Progress on the study of the Indonesian Seas and Indonesian Throughflow (in Chinese). Adv Earth Sci, 26: 1131–1142Google Scholar
  16. Feng M, Li Y, Meyers G. 2004. Multidecadal variations of Fremantle sea level: Footprint of climate variability in the tropical Pacific, Geophys Res Lett, 31: L16302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Feng M, McPhaden M J, Lee T. 2010. Decadal variability of the Pacific subtropical cells and their influence on the southeast Indian Ocean. Geophys Res Lett, 37: L09606Google Scholar
  18. Glenn S M, Porter D L, Robinson A R. 1991. A synthetic geoid validation of Geosat mesoscale dynamictopography in the Gulf Stream region. J Geophys Res, 96: 7145–7166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gordon A L, Fine R A. 1996. Pathways of water between the Pacific and Indian oceans in the Indonesian seas. Nature, 379: 146–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Han W Q. 2010. Patterns of Indian Ocean sea-level change in a warming climate. Nature, 3: 546–550Google Scholar
  21. Ishii M, Kimoto M, Sakamoto K. 2006. Steric sea level changes estimated from historical ocean subsurface temperature and salinity analyses. J Oceanogr, 62: 155–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Iskandar I, Mardiansyah W, Masumoto Y, et al. 2005. Intraseasonal Kelvin waves along the southern coast of Sumatra and Java.J Geophys Res, 110: C04013, doi: 10.1029/2004JC002508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lombard A, Cazenave A, Le Traon. 2005. Contribution of thermal expansion to present-day sea-level change revisited. Glob Planet Change, 47: 1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lorenz E N. 1956. Empirical orthogonal functions and statistical weather prediction. MIT Dept Meteorol, Sci Rept No 1. Cambridge: Statistical Forecasting Project Department of MeteorologyGoogle Scholar
  25. Mantua N J, Hare S R, Zhang Y. 1997. A Pacific interdecadal climate oscillation with impacts on salmon production. Bull Amer Meteorol Soc, 1069–1079Google Scholar
  26. Masumoto Y, Meyers G. 1998. Forced Rossby waves in the southern tropical Indian Ocean. J Geophys Res, 103: 27589–27602CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Merrifield M A. 2011. A shift in western tropical Pacific sea level trends during the 1990s. J Clim, 24: 4162–4138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Merrifield M A, Thompson P R, Lander M. 2012. Multidecadal sea level anomalies and trends in the western tropical Pacific. Geophys Res Lett, 39: L13602CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Meyers, G. 1979. On the annual Rossby wave in the tropical North Pacific Ocean. J Phys Oceanogr, 9: 663–674CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Meyers G, McIntonsh P, Pigot L. 2007. The Years of El Niño, La Niña, and Interactions with the Tropical Indian Ocean. J Clim, 20: 2872–2880CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Meyssignac B, Cazenave A. 2012. Sea level: A review of present-day and recent-past changes and variability. J Geodyn, 58: 96–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Milne G A. 2009. Identifying the causes of sea-level change. Nature Geosci, 2: 471–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pearson K. 1902. On the mathematical theory of errors of judgment, with special reference to the personal equation. Philos Trans R Soc A-Math Phys Eng Sci, 235–299Google Scholar
  34. Potemra J T. 2001. Contribution of equatorial Pacific winds to southern tropical Indian Ocean Rossby waves. J Geophys Res, 106: 2407–2422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Qiu B. 2002. Large-scale variability in the midlatitude subtropical and subpolar North Pacific Ocean: Observations and causes. J Phys Oceanogr, 32:353–375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Qiu B, Chen S M. 2012. Multidecadal Sea Level and Gyre Circulation Variability in the Northwestern Tropical Pacific Ocean. J Phys Oceanogr, 42: 193–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Steven K. 2004. Glossary of Physical Oceanography and Related Disciplines. Houston: Texas A&M University. 120–121Google Scholar
  38. Wang D X, Liu Y, Liu Q Y. 2003. Connections in ocean upper layer between Indian Ocean and the west Pacific during 1997–1998 El Niño event. Chin Sci Bull, 48: 957–963CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wolff J, Maier-Reimer E, Legutke S. 1997. The Hamburg Ocean Primitive Equation model. Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum Tech Rep 13, Hamburg. 98Google Scholar
  40. Willebrand J, Käse R H, Stammer D. 1990. Verification of Geosat sea surface topography in the Gulf Stream extension with surface drifting buoys and hydrographic measurements. J Geophys Res, 95: 3007–3014CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wu G X, Meng W. 1998. Gearing between the Indo-monsoon Circulation and the Pacific-Walker Circulation and the ENSO. PartI: Data Analyses (in Chinese). Sci Atmos Sin, 22: 470Google Scholar
  42. Wu H Y, Li C Y, Zhang M. 2010. The preliminary numerical research of effects of ITF on tropical Pacific-Indian ocean associated temperature anomaly mode (in Chinese). J Trop Meteorol, 26: 513–828Google Scholar
  43. Wijffels S, Meyers G. 2004. An Intersection of Oceanic Waveguides: Variability in the Indonesian Throughflow Region. J Phys Oceanogr, 34: 1232–1253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Yamagata T, Mizuno K, Masumoto Y. 1996. Seasonal variations in the equatorial Indian Ocean and their impact on the Lombok throughflow. J Geophys Res, 101: 12465–12473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Yu Y Q, Zhou Z Y, Zhang X H. 2003. The impact on the climate when Indonesia hydrographic path shut down: A numerical simulation research. Chin Sci Bull, 48: 60–64Google Scholar
  46. Yuan D L. 2009. Long wave dynamics of sea level variations during the Indian Ocean Dipole events. J Phys Oceangr, doi: 10.1175/2008JPO3900.1Google Scholar
  47. Zhuang W, Feng M, Du Y. 2013. Low-frequency sea level variability in the southern Indian Ocean and its impacts on the oceanic meridional transports. J Geophys Res-Oceans, 118: 1302–1315CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of OceanologyChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Scripps Institution of OceanographyLa JollaUSA

Personalised recommendations