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Vertical Structure of the Upper–Indian Ocean Thermal Variability

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  • 1 Key Laboratory of Ocean Circulation and Waves, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Function Laboratory for Ocean Dynamics and Climate, Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, and Center for Ocean Mega-Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao, and CAS Center for Excellence in Quaternary Science and Global Change, Xi’an, China
  • 2 Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
  • 3 Key Laboratory of Ocean Circulation and Waves, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Function Laboratory for Ocean Dynamics and Climate, Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, and Center for Ocean Mega-Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao, China
  • 4 Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
  • 5 Key Laboratory of Ocean Circulation and Waves, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Function Laboratory for Ocean Dynamics and Climate, Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, and Center for Ocean Mega-Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao, China
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Abstract

Multi-time-scale variabilities of the Indian Ocean (IO) temperature over 0–700 m are revisited from the perspective of vertical structure. Analysis of historical data for 1955–2018 identifies two dominant types of vertical structures that account for respectively 70.5% and 21.2% of the total variance on interannual-to-interdecadal time scales with the linear trend and seasonal cycle removed. The leading type manifests as vertically coherent warming/cooling with the maximal amplitude at ~100 m and exhibits evident interdecadal variations. The second type shows a vertical dipole structure between the surface (0–60 m) and subsurface (60–400 m) layers and interannual-to-decadal fluctuations. Ocean model experiments were performed to gain insights into underlying processes. The vertically coherent, basinwide warming/cooling of the IO on an interdecadal time scale is caused by changes of the Indonesian Throughflow (ITF) controlled by Pacific climate and anomalous surface heat fluxes partly originating from external forcing. Enhanced changes in the subtropical southern IO arise from positive air–sea feedback among sea surface temperature, winds, turbulent heat flux, cloud cover, and shortwave radiation. Regarding dipole-type variability, the basinwide surface warming is induced by surface heat flux forcing, and the subsurface cooling occurs only in the eastern IO. The cooling in the southeast IO is generated by the weakened ITF, whereas that in the northeast IO is caused by equatorial easterly winds through upwelling oceanic waves. Both El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and IO dipole (IOD) events are favorable for the generation of such vertical dipole anomalies.

Corresponding author: Yuanlong Li, liyuanlong@qdio.ac.cn

Abstract

Multi-time-scale variabilities of the Indian Ocean (IO) temperature over 0–700 m are revisited from the perspective of vertical structure. Analysis of historical data for 1955–2018 identifies two dominant types of vertical structures that account for respectively 70.5% and 21.2% of the total variance on interannual-to-interdecadal time scales with the linear trend and seasonal cycle removed. The leading type manifests as vertically coherent warming/cooling with the maximal amplitude at ~100 m and exhibits evident interdecadal variations. The second type shows a vertical dipole structure between the surface (0–60 m) and subsurface (60–400 m) layers and interannual-to-decadal fluctuations. Ocean model experiments were performed to gain insights into underlying processes. The vertically coherent, basinwide warming/cooling of the IO on an interdecadal time scale is caused by changes of the Indonesian Throughflow (ITF) controlled by Pacific climate and anomalous surface heat fluxes partly originating from external forcing. Enhanced changes in the subtropical southern IO arise from positive air–sea feedback among sea surface temperature, winds, turbulent heat flux, cloud cover, and shortwave radiation. Regarding dipole-type variability, the basinwide surface warming is induced by surface heat flux forcing, and the subsurface cooling occurs only in the eastern IO. The cooling in the southeast IO is generated by the weakened ITF, whereas that in the northeast IO is caused by equatorial easterly winds through upwelling oceanic waves. Both El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and IO dipole (IOD) events are favorable for the generation of such vertical dipole anomalies.

Corresponding author: Yuanlong Li, liyuanlong@qdio.ac.cn
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