Semiannual Variability of Middepth Zonal Currents along 5°N in the Eastern Indian Ocean: Characteristics and Causes

Ke Huang State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China
Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Ghuangzhou), Guangzhou, China

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Dongxiao Wang State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China
School of Marine Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China

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Weiqing Han Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado

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Ming Feng CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia

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Gengxin Chen State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China
Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Ghuangzhou), Guangzhou, China

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Weiqiang Wang State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China
Laboratory for Regional Oceanography and Numerical Modeling, Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao, China

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Ju Chen State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China

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Jian Li State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China

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Abstract

Four-year (2014–17) zonal current data observed by a mooring at (5°N, 90.5°E) in the eastern Indian Ocean show a strong semiannual cycle in the middepth (~1200 m) with distinct vertical structure. This pronounced middepth semiannual variability, however, is inconsistent with the local wind forcing, which shows a predominant annual cycle. The underlying causes for this unique middepth variability along 5°N were elucidated with the addition of a reanalysis product and a continuously stratified linear ocean model. The results suggest that the observed seasonal variability in the middepth zonal flow at 5°N is primarily caused by boundary-reflected Rossby waves forced by the remote semiannual winds along the equator. Contribution from the locally wind-forced Rossby waves is much less. The theoretical Wentzel–Kramers–Brillouin ray paths further verify that the strong semiannual variability of the middepth signals over a moored region in the eastern Indian Ocean is largely a manifestation of the steep angles of propagating energy of the long Rossby waves at semiannual time scale. The annual signals are only significant in the upper and western sections (75°–80°E) as a result of the smooth trajectories of Rossby waves forced by local annual winds. Further analysis reveals that the middepth zonal currents along 5°N are expected to be associated with equatorial symmetric Rossby waves at semiannual period. Consequently, similar zonal flows should also exist in the middepth near 5°S.

Deceased 21 April 2019.

© 2019 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Gengxin Chen, chengengxin@scsio.ac.cn

Abstract

Four-year (2014–17) zonal current data observed by a mooring at (5°N, 90.5°E) in the eastern Indian Ocean show a strong semiannual cycle in the middepth (~1200 m) with distinct vertical structure. This pronounced middepth semiannual variability, however, is inconsistent with the local wind forcing, which shows a predominant annual cycle. The underlying causes for this unique middepth variability along 5°N were elucidated with the addition of a reanalysis product and a continuously stratified linear ocean model. The results suggest that the observed seasonal variability in the middepth zonal flow at 5°N is primarily caused by boundary-reflected Rossby waves forced by the remote semiannual winds along the equator. Contribution from the locally wind-forced Rossby waves is much less. The theoretical Wentzel–Kramers–Brillouin ray paths further verify that the strong semiannual variability of the middepth signals over a moored region in the eastern Indian Ocean is largely a manifestation of the steep angles of propagating energy of the long Rossby waves at semiannual time scale. The annual signals are only significant in the upper and western sections (75°–80°E) as a result of the smooth trajectories of Rossby waves forced by local annual winds. Further analysis reveals that the middepth zonal currents along 5°N are expected to be associated with equatorial symmetric Rossby waves at semiannual period. Consequently, similar zonal flows should also exist in the middepth near 5°S.

Deceased 21 April 2019.

© 2019 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Gengxin Chen, chengengxin@scsio.ac.cn
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