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  • Author or Editor: Debasis Sengupta x
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Toru Miyama
,
Julian P. McCreary Jr.
,
Debasis Sengupta
, and
Retish Senan

Abstract

Variability of the wind field over the equatorial Indian Ocean is spread throughout the intraseasonal (10–60 day) band. In contrast, variability of the near-surface υ field in the eastern, equatorial ocean is concentrated at biweekly frequencies and is largely composed of Yanai waves. The excitation of this biweekly variability is investigated using an oceanic GCM and both analytic and numerical versions of a linear, continuously stratified (LCS) model in which solutions are represented as expansions in baroclinic modes. Solutions are forced by Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) winds (the model control runs) and by idealized winds having the form of a propagating wave with frequency σ and wavenumber kw . The GCM and LCS control runs are remarkably similar in the biweekly band, indicating that the dynamics of biweekly variability are fundamentally linear and wind driven. The biweekly response is composed of local (nonradiating) and remote (Yanai wave) parts, with the former spread roughly uniformly along the equator and the latter strengthening to the east. Test runs to the numerical models separately forced by the τx and τy components of the QuikSCAT winds demonstrate that both forcings contribute to the biweekly signal, the response forced by τy being somewhat stronger. Without mixing, the analytic spectrum for Yanai waves forced by idealized winds has a narrowband (resonant) response for each baroclinic mode: Spectral peaks occur whenever the wavenumber of the Yanai wave for mode n is sufficiently close to kw and they shift from biweekly to lower frequencies with increasing modenumber n. With mixing, the higher-order modes are damped so that the largest ocean response is restricted to Yanai waves in the biweekly band. Thus, in the LCS model, resonance and mixing act together to account for the ocean's favoring the biweekly band. Because of the GCM's complexity, it cannot be confirmed that vertical mixing also damps its higher-order modes; other possible processes are nonlinear interactions with near-surface currents, and the model's low vertical resolution below the thermocline. Test runs to the LCS model show that Yanai waves from several modes superpose to form a beam (wave packet) that carries energy downward as well as eastward. Reflections of such beams from the near-surface pycnocline and bottom act to maintain near-surface energy levels, accounting for the eastward intensification of the near-surface, equatorial υ field in the control runs.

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Dipanjan Chaudhuri
,
Debasis Sengupta
,
Eric D’Asaro
,
R. Venkatesan
, and
M. Ravichandran

Abstract

Cyclone Phailin, which developed over the Bay of Bengal in October 2013, was one of the strongest tropical cyclones to make landfall in India. We study the response of the salinity-stratified north Bay of Bengal to Cyclone Phailin with the help of hourly observations from three open-ocean moorings 200 km from the cyclone track, a mooring close to the cyclone track, daily sea surface salinity (SSS) from Aquarius, and a one-dimensional model. Before the arrival of Phailin, moored observations showed a shallow layer of low-salinity water lying above a deep, warm “barrier” layer. As the winds strengthened, upper-ocean mixing due to enhanced vertical shear of storm-generated currents led to a rapid increase of near-surface salinity. Sea surface temperature (SST) cooled very little, however, because the prestorm subsurface ocean was warm. Aquarius SSS increased by 1.5–3 psu over an area of nearly one million square kilometers in the north Bay of Bengal. A one-dimensional model, with initial conditions and surface forcing based on moored observations, shows that cyclone winds rapidly eroded the shallow, salinity-dominated density stratification and mixed the upper ocean to 40–50-m depth, consistent with observations. Model sensitivity experiments indicate that changes in ocean mixed layer temperature in response to Cyclone Phailin are small. A nearly isothermal, salinity-stratified barrier layer in the prestorm upper ocean has two effects. First, near-surface density stratification reduces the depth of vertical mixing. Second, mixing is confined to the nearly isothermal layer, resulting in little or no SST cooling.

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