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A. Anutaliya
,
U. Send
,
J. L. McClean
,
J. Sprintall
,
M. Lankhorst
,
C. M. Lee
,
L. Rainville
,
W. N. C. Priyadarshani
, and
S. U. P. Jinadasa

Abstract

Boundary currents along the Sri Lankan eastern and southern coasts serve as a pathway for salt exchange between the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea basins in the northern Indian Ocean, which are characterized by their contrasting salinities. Measurements from two pairs of pressure-sensing inverted echo sounders (PIES) deployed along the Sri Lankan eastern and southern coasts as well as satellite measurements are used to understand the variability of these boundary currents and the associated salt transport. The volume transport in the surface (0–200-m depth) layer exhibits a seasonal cycle associated with the monsoonal wind reversal and interannual variability associated with the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD). In this layer, the boundary currents transport low-salinity water out of the Bay of Bengal during the northeast monsoon and transport high-salinity water into the Bay of Bengal during the fall monsoon transition of some years (e.g., 2015 and 2018). The Bay of Bengal salt input increases during the 2016 negative IOD as the eastward flow of high-salinity water during the fall monsoon transition intensifies, whereas the effect of the 2015/16 El Niño on the Bay of Bengal salt input is still unclear. The time-mean eddy salt flux over the upper 200 m estimated for the April 2015–March 2019 period along the eastern coast accounts for 9% of the salt budget required to balance an estimated 0.13 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) of annual freshwater input into the Bay of Bengal. The time-mean eddy salt flux over the upper 200 m estimated for the December 2015–November 2019 period along the southern coast accounts for 27% of that same salt budget.

Significance Statement

In the northern Indian Ocean, the highly saline Arabian Sea undergoes extreme evaporation while the Bay of Bengal (BoB) receives excess freshwater input. The focus of this study is the role of the observed time-variable circulation around Sri Lanka that permits the exchange between these basins to maintain their salinity distributions. The circulation fluctuates seasonally following the monsoon wind reversal and interannually in response to large-scale climate modes. The BoB freshwater export around Sri Lanka occurs during the northeast monsoon, whereas saline water import occurs during the fall monsoon transition of some years. However, rapid changes in both water volume transport and salt exchange can occur. The circulation over 0–200-m depth transports ∼9%–27% of the BoB salt budget.

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Emily Shroyer
,
Amit Tandon
,
Debasis Sengupta
,
Harindra J. S. Fernando
,
Andrew J. Lucas
,
J. Thomas Farrar
,
Rajib Chattopadhyay
,
Simon de Szoeke
,
Maria Flatau
,
Adam Rydbeck
,
Hemantha Wijesekera
,
Michael McPhaden
,
Hyodae Seo
,
Aneesh Subramanian
,
R Venkatesan
,
Jossia Joseph
,
S. Ramsundaram
,
Arnold L. Gordon
,
Shannon M. Bohman
,
Jaynise Pérez
,
Iury T. Simoes-Sousa
,
Steven R. Jayne
,
Robert E. Todd
,
G. S. Bhat
,
Matthias Lankhorst
,
Tamara Schlosser
,
Katherine Adams
,
S. U. P Jinadasa
,
Manikandan Mathur
,
M. Mohapatra
,
E. Pattabhi Rama Rao
,
A. K. Sahai
,
Rashmi Sharma
,
Craig Lee
,
Luc Rainville
,
Deepak Cherian
,
Kerstin Cullen
,
Luca R. Centurioni
,
Verena Hormann
,
Jennifer MacKinnon
,
Uwe Send
,
Arachaporn Anutaliya
,
Amy Waterhouse
,
Garrett S. Black
,
Jeremy A. Dehart
,
Kaitlyn M. Woods
,
Edward Creegan
,
Gad Levy
,
Lakshmi H. Kantha
, and
Bulusu Subrahmanyam

Abstract

In the Bay of Bengal, the warm, dry boreal spring concludes with the onset of the summer monsoon and accompanying southwesterly winds, heavy rains, and variable air–sea fluxes. Here, we summarize the 2018 monsoon onset using observations collected through the multinational Monsoon Intraseasonal Oscillations in the Bay of Bengal (MISO-BoB) program between the United States, India, and Sri Lanka. MISO-BoB aims to improve understanding of monsoon intraseasonal variability, and the 2018 field effort captured the coupled air–sea response during a transition from active-to-break conditions in the central BoB. The active phase of the ∼20-day research cruise was characterized by warm sea surface temperature (SST > 30°C), cold atmospheric outflows with intermittent heavy rainfall, and increasing winds (from 2 to 15 m s−1). Accumulated rainfall exceeded 200 mm with 90% of precipitation occurring during the first week. The following break period was both dry and clear, with persistent 10–12 m s−1 wind and evaporation of 0.2 mm h−1. The evolving environmental state included a deepening ocean mixed layer (from ∼20 to 50 m), cooling SST (by ∼1°C), and warming/drying of the lower to midtroposphere. Local atmospheric development was consistent with phasing of the large-scale intraseasonal oscillation. The upper ocean stores significant heat in the BoB, enough to maintain SST above 29°C despite cooling by surface fluxes and ocean mixing. Comparison with reanalysis indicates biases in air–sea fluxes, which may be related to overly cool prescribed SST. Resolution of such biases offers a path toward improved forecasting of transition periods in the monsoon.

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