VARIABILITY OF ZONAL CURRENTS IN THE EASTERN EQUATORIAL INDIAN OCEAN ON SEASONAL TO INTERANNUAL TIME SCALES
Friday, 19 December 2014: 3:25 PM
We present results on the zonal current variations along the equator in the upper layers of eastern Indian Ocean in relation to variations in the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). Our study utilizes data from the Research Moored Array for African-Asian-Australian Monsoon Analysis and Prediction (RAMA) and model outputs from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts - Ocean Reanalysis System 4 (ECMWF-ORAS4) for 1960-2011. Surface currents are characterized by strong semi-annual eastward flowing Wyrtki jets in boreal spring and fall, forced by westerly monsoon transition winds along the equator. The fall jet intensifies during negative IOD (NIOD) events when westerlies are stronger than normal but significantly weakens during positive IOD (PIOD) events when westerlies are weaker than normal. Associated with weakened PIOD zonal wind stresses, sea surface height becomes unusually low in the eastern basin and high in the west, setting up an anomalous pressure force that drives increased eastward transport in the thermocline. In contrast, during NIOD events when equatorial westerlies and the normal zonal surface height gradient intensify, the eastward zonal current in the thermocline significantly weakens. A surface layer mass budget calculation for the eastern pole of the IOD indicates upwelling at a rate of ~2.9±0.7 Sv during normal periods, increasing by 40-50% during PIOD events and reducing to zero during NIOD events. IOD-related variations in Wyrtki jet and thermocline transports are major influences on these upwelling rates, which are consistent with observed sea surface temperature changes.