Processes of 30–90 days sea surface temperature variability in the northern Indian Ocean during boreal summer

Abstract

During summer, the northern Indian Ocean exhibits significant atmospheric intraseasonal variability associated with active and break phases of the monsoon in the 30–90 days band. In this paper, we investigate mechanisms of the Sea Surface Temperature (SST) signature of this atmospheric variability, using a combination of observational datasets and Ocean General Circulation Model sensitivity experiments. In addition to the previously-reported intraseasonal SST signature in the Bay of Bengal, observations show clear SST signals in the Arabian Sea related to the active/break cycle of the monsoon. As the atmospheric intraseasonal oscillation moves northward, SST variations appear first at the southern tip of India (day 0), then in the Somali upwelling region (day 10), northern Bay of Bengal (day 19) and finally in the Oman upwelling region (day 23). The Bay of Bengal and Oman signals are most clearly associated with the monsoon active/break index, whereas the relationship with signals near Somali upwelling and the southern tip of India is weaker. In agreement with previous studies, we find that heat flux variations drive most of the intraseasonal SST variability in the Bay of Bengal, both in our model (regression coefficient, 0.9, against ~0.25 for wind stress) and in observations (0.8 regression coefficient); ~60% of the heat flux variation is due do shortwave radiation and ~40% due to latent heat flux. On the other hand, both observations and model results indicate a prominent role of dynamical oceanic processes in the Arabian Sea. Wind-stress variations force about 70–100% of SST intraseasonal variations in the Arabian Sea, through modulation of oceanic processes (entrainment, mixing, Ekman pumping, lateral advection). Our ~100 km resolution model suggests that internal oceanic variability (i.e. eddies) contributes substantially to intraseasonal variability at small-scale in the Somali upwelling region, but does not contribute to large-scale intraseasonal SST variability due to its small spatial scale and random phase relation to the active-break monsoon cycle. The effect of oceanic eddies; however, remains to be explored at a higher spatial resolution.

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Acknowledgments

Jérôme Vialard and Matthieu Lengaigne are funded by Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD). Matthieu Lengaigne produced his contribution to this paper while visiting the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) in Goa, India. A. Jayakumar thanks the Council of Scientific Industrial Research (CSIR), India for Senior Research fellowship. The authors acknowledge financial support of Space Application Center (SAC), Ahmedabad, India and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad, India.

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Vialard, J., Jayakumar, A., Gnanaseelan, C. et al. Processes of 30–90 days sea surface temperature variability in the northern Indian Ocean during boreal summer. Clim Dyn 38, 1901–1916 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-011-1015-3

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Keywords

  • Northern Indian Ocean
  • Intraseasonal variability
  • Air–sea interactions
  • Monsoon active and break phases
  • Heat budget