Full vorticity budget of the Arabian Sea from a 0.1° ocean model: Sverdrup dynamics, Rossby waves and nonlinear eddy effects

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  • 1 Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California
  • | 2 Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California
  • | 3 Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California
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Abstract

The Arabian Sea, influenced by the Indian monsoon, has many unique features including its basin scale seasonally reversing surface circulation and the Great Whirl, a seasonal anti-cyclonic system appearing during the southwest monsoon close to the western boundary. To establish a comprehensive dynamical picture of the Arabian Sea, we utilize numerical model output and design a full vorticity budget that includes a fully-decomposed nonlinear term. The ocean general circulation model has 0.1° resolution and is mesoscale eddy-resolving in the region. In the western boundary current system, we highlight the role of nonlinear eddies in the life cycle of the Great Whirl. The nonlinear eddy term is of leading order importance in this feature’s vorticity balance. Specifically, it contributes to the Great Whirl’s persistence in boreal fall after the weakening of the southwesterly winds. In the open ocean, Sverdrup dynamics and annual Rossby waves are found to dominate the vorticity balance; the latter is considered as a key factor in the formation of the Great Whirl and the sea-sonal reversal of the western boundary current. In addition, we discuss different forms of vertically-integrated vorticity equations in the model and argue that the bottom pressure torque term can be interpreted analogously as friction in the western boundary and vortex stretching in the open ocean.

Corresponding author: He Wang, he.wang@noaa.gov. Now at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research/NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory/University of Michigan

Abstract

The Arabian Sea, influenced by the Indian monsoon, has many unique features including its basin scale seasonally reversing surface circulation and the Great Whirl, a seasonal anti-cyclonic system appearing during the southwest monsoon close to the western boundary. To establish a comprehensive dynamical picture of the Arabian Sea, we utilize numerical model output and design a full vorticity budget that includes a fully-decomposed nonlinear term. The ocean general circulation model has 0.1° resolution and is mesoscale eddy-resolving in the region. In the western boundary current system, we highlight the role of nonlinear eddies in the life cycle of the Great Whirl. The nonlinear eddy term is of leading order importance in this feature’s vorticity balance. Specifically, it contributes to the Great Whirl’s persistence in boreal fall after the weakening of the southwesterly winds. In the open ocean, Sverdrup dynamics and annual Rossby waves are found to dominate the vorticity balance; the latter is considered as a key factor in the formation of the Great Whirl and the sea-sonal reversal of the western boundary current. In addition, we discuss different forms of vertically-integrated vorticity equations in the model and argue that the bottom pressure torque term can be interpreted analogously as friction in the western boundary and vortex stretching in the open ocean.

Corresponding author: He Wang, he.wang@noaa.gov. Now at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research/NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory/University of Michigan
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