Genesis of Indian Ocean Mixed Layer Temperature Anomalies: A Heat Budget Analysis

Agus Santoso Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Alexander Sen Gupta Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Matthew H. England Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Abstract

The genesis of mixed layer temperature anomalies across the Indian Ocean are analyzed in terms of the underlying heat budget components. Observational data, for which a seasonal budget can be computed, and a climate model output, which provides improved spatial and temporal coverage for longer time scales, are examined. The seasonal climatology of the model heat budget is broadly consistent with the observational reconstruction, thus providing certain confidence in extending the model analysis to interannual time scales. To identify the dominant heat budget components, covariance analysis is applied based on the heat budget equation. In addition, the role of the heat budget terms on the generation and decay of temperature anomalies is revealed via a novel temperature variance budget approach. The seasonal evolution of the mixed layer temperature is found to be largely controlled by air–sea heat fluxes, except in the tropics where advection and entrainment are important. A distinct shift in the importance and role of certain heat budget components is shown to be apparent in moving from seasonal to interannual time scales. On these longer time scales, advection gains importance in generating and sustaining anomalies over extensive regions, including the trade wind and midlatitude wind regimes. On the other hand, air–sea heat fluxes tend to drive the evolution of thermal anomalies over subtropical regions including off northwestern Australia. In the tropics, however, they limit the growth of anomalies. Entrainment plays a role in the generation and maintenance of interannual anomalies over localized regions, particularly off Sumatra and over the Seychelles–Chagos Thermocline Ridge. It is further shown that the spatial distribution of the role and importance of these terms is related to oceanographic features of the Indian Ocean. Mixed layer depth effects and the influence of model biases are discussed.

Corresponding author address: Agus Santoso, Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia. Email: a.santoso@unsw.edu.au

Abstract

The genesis of mixed layer temperature anomalies across the Indian Ocean are analyzed in terms of the underlying heat budget components. Observational data, for which a seasonal budget can be computed, and a climate model output, which provides improved spatial and temporal coverage for longer time scales, are examined. The seasonal climatology of the model heat budget is broadly consistent with the observational reconstruction, thus providing certain confidence in extending the model analysis to interannual time scales. To identify the dominant heat budget components, covariance analysis is applied based on the heat budget equation. In addition, the role of the heat budget terms on the generation and decay of temperature anomalies is revealed via a novel temperature variance budget approach. The seasonal evolution of the mixed layer temperature is found to be largely controlled by air–sea heat fluxes, except in the tropics where advection and entrainment are important. A distinct shift in the importance and role of certain heat budget components is shown to be apparent in moving from seasonal to interannual time scales. On these longer time scales, advection gains importance in generating and sustaining anomalies over extensive regions, including the trade wind and midlatitude wind regimes. On the other hand, air–sea heat fluxes tend to drive the evolution of thermal anomalies over subtropical regions including off northwestern Australia. In the tropics, however, they limit the growth of anomalies. Entrainment plays a role in the generation and maintenance of interannual anomalies over localized regions, particularly off Sumatra and over the Seychelles–Chagos Thermocline Ridge. It is further shown that the spatial distribution of the role and importance of these terms is related to oceanographic features of the Indian Ocean. Mixed layer depth effects and the influence of model biases are discussed.

Corresponding author address: Agus Santoso, Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia. Email: a.santoso@unsw.edu.au

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