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Inhibition of mixed-layer deepening during winter in the northeastern Arabian Sea by the West India Coastal Current

Shankar, D and Remya, R and Vinayachandran, PN and Chatterjee, A and Behera, A (2015) Inhibition of mixed-layer deepening during winter in the northeastern Arabian Sea by the West India Coastal Current. In: Climate Dynamics, 47 (3-4). pp. 1049-1072.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-015-2888-3


Though the deep mixed layers (MLs) that form in the northeastern Arabian Sea (NEAS) during the winter monsoon (November–February) have been attributed to convective mixing driven by dry, cool northeasterly winds from the Indian subcontinent, data show that the deepest MLs occur in the northern NEAS and the maxima of latent-heat and net heat fluxes in the southern NEAS. We use an oceanic general circulation model to show that the deep MLs in the NEAS extend up to ~20°N till the end of December, but are restricted poleward of ~22°N (~23°N) in January (February). This progressive restriction of the deep mixed layers within the NEAS is due to poleward advection of water of lower salinity by the West India Coastal Current (WICC). The deep MLs are sustained till February in the northern NEAS because convective mixing deepens the ML before the waters of lower salinity reach this region and the wind stirring and convective overturning generate sufficient turbulent energy for the ML to maintain the depth attained in January. Though the atmospheric fluxes tend to cool the ML in the southern NEAS, this cooling is countered by the warming due to horizontal advection. Likewise, the cooling due to entrainment, which continues in the southern NEAS even as the ML shallows during January–February, is almost cancelled by the warming caused by a downwelling vertical velocity field. Therefore, the SST changes very little during December–February even as the ML shallows dramatically in the southern NEAS. These deep MLs of the NEAS also preclude a strong intraseasonal response to the intraseasonal variability in the fluxes. This role of horizontal advection implies that the ML depth in the NEAS is determined by an interplay of physical processes that are forced differently. The convective mixing depends on processes that are local to the region, but the advection is due to the WICC, whose seasonal cycle is primarily forced by remote winds. By inhibiting the formation of deep MLs in the southern NEAS, the WICC limits the region of formation of the high-salinity water masses of this region. Since the deep MLs in the NEAS have been linked to the high chlorophyll concentration there, our results imply that the conventional approach of averaging over boxes for studying the impact of physics on biogeochemistry can mask important details that are due to advection because it is the advective component of any budget that is most affected by the averaging process.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Climate Dynamics
Publisher: Climate Dynamics
Additional Information: The copyright of this article belongs to the authors.
Keywords: biogeochemistry; chlorophyll; coastal current; eastern boundary current; inhibition; latent heat flux; mixed layer; mixing; monsoon; oceanic general circulation model; salinity; turbulent mixing; water mass; winter, Arabian Sea; Indian Ocean; West India Coastal Current
Department/Centre: Division of Mechanical Sciences > Divecha Centre for Climate Change
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2022 06:43
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2022 06:43
URI: https://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/74977

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