Overview of Recent and Future Indonesian Throughflow Tasks

Monday, 15 December 2014
Janet Sprintall, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States
The tropical Indonesian seas play a central role in the climate system. They lie at the climatological center of the atmospheric deep convection associated with the ascending branch of the Walker Circulation. They also provide an oceanic pathway for the Pacific and Indian inter-ocean exchange, known as the Indonesian throughflow (ITF). The ITF is the only tropical pathway in the global thermohaline circulation. As such, the volume of heat and fresh water carried by the ITF is known to impact the state of the Pacific and Indian oceans as well as air–sea exchange, which modulates the climate system on a variety of timescales. Still, many fundamental questions about the structure and variability of the ITF on climate time scales remain unanswered. Longer time series are needed to understand the links of the vertical ITF transport profile to the IOD and ENSO phenomena and decadal variability, and their implications for climate variations, such as known impacts on precipitation in the Australasian region. This talk will highlight some recent scientific studies of the maritime Indonesian continent, and also discuss a co-ordinated international observational and modeling effort targeted towards identifying the urgent gaps that would lead to an improved understanding of the ITF variability. The ultimate goal of this ITF-Task Team is to provide a scientific basis for developing and evaluating a cost-effective strategy for sustained monitoring of the ITF heat and mass transport over the long term for use in climate models and future predictions.