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Debasis Sengupta

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Debasis Sengupta, Retish Senan, B. N. Goswami, and Jérôme Vialard

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New satellite and in situ observations show large intraseasonal (10–60 day) variability of surface winds and upper-ocean current in the equatorial Indian Ocean, particularly in the east. An ocean model forced by the Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) wind stress is used to study the dynamics of the intraseasonal zonal current. The model has realistic upper-ocean currents and thermocline depth variabilities on intraseasonal to interannual scales. The quality of the simulation is directly attributed to the accuracy of the wind forcing. At the equator, moderate westerly winds are punctuated by strong 10–40-day westerly wind bursts. The wind bursts force swift, intraseasonal (20–50 day) eastward equatorial jets in spring, summer, and fall. The zonal momentum balance is between local acceleration, stress, and pressure, while nonlinearity deepens and strengthens the eastward current. The westward pressure force associated with the thermocline deepening toward the east rapidly arrests eastward jets and, subsequently, generates (weak) westward flow. Thus, in accord with direct observations in the east, the spring jet is a single intraseasonal event, there are intraseasonal jets in summer, and the fall jet is long lived but strongly modulated on an intraseasonal scale. The zonal pressure force is almost always westward in the upper 120 m, and changes sign twice a year in the 120–200-m layer. Transient eastward equatorial undercurrents in early spring and late summer are associated with semiannual Rossby waves generated at the eastern boundary following thermocline deepening by the spring and fall jets. An easterly wind stress is not necessary to generate the undercurrents. Experiments with a single westerly wind burst forcing show that apart from the intraseasonal response, the zonal pressure force and current in the east have an intrinsic 90-day time scale that arises purely from equatorial adjustment.

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Toru Miyama, Julian P. McCreary Jr., Debasis Sengupta, and Retish Senan

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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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Jai Sukhatme, Dipanjan Chaudhuri, Jennifer MacKinnon, S. Shivaprasad, and Debasis Sengupta

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Horizontal currents in the Bay of Bengal were measured on eight cruises covering a total of 8600 km using a 300-kHz acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP). The cruises are distributed over multiple seasons and regions of the Bay. Horizontal wavenumber spectra of these currents over depths of 12–54 m and wavelengths from 2 to 400 km were decomposed into rotational and divergent components assuming isotropy. An average of across- and along-track spectra over all cruises shows that the spectral slope of horizontal kinetic energy for wavelengths of 10–80-km scales with an exponent of −1.7 ± 0.05, which transitions to a steeper slope for wavelengths above 80 km. The rotational component is significantly larger than the divergent component at scales greater than 80 km, while the ratio of the two is nearly constant with a mean of 1.16 ± 0.4 between 10 and 80 km. The measurements show a fair amount of variability and spectral levels vary between cruises by about a factor of 5 over 10–100 km. Velocity differences over 10–80 km show probability density functions and structure functions with stretched exponential behavior and anomalous scaling. Comparisons with the Garrett–Munk internal wave spectrum indicate that inertia–gravity waves account for only a modest fraction of the kinetic energy between 10 and 80 km. These constraints suggest that the near-surface flow in the Bay is primarily balanced and follows a forward enstrophy transfer quasigeostrophic regime for wavelengths greater than approximately 80 km, with a larger role for unbalanced rotating stratified turbulence and internal waves at smaller scales.

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

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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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R. A. Weller, J. T. Farrar, Hyodae Seo, Channing Prend, Debasis Sengupta, J. Sree Lekha, M. Ravichandran, and R. Venkatesen

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Time series of surface meteorology and air–sea fluxes from the northern Bay of Bengal are analyzed, quantifying annual and seasonal means, variability, and the potential for surface fluxes to contribute significantly to variability in surface temperature and salinity. Strong signals were associated with solar insolation and its modulation by cloud cover, and, in the 5- to 50-day range, with intraseasonal oscillations (ISOs). The northeast (NE) monsoon (DJF) was typically cloud free, with strong latent heat loss and several moderate wind events, and had the only seasonal mean ocean heat loss. The spring intermonsoon (MAM) was cloud free and had light winds and the strongest ocean heating. Strong ISOs and Tropical Cyclone Komen were seen in the southwest (SW) monsoon (JJA), when 65% of the 2.2-m total rain fell, and oceanic mean heating was small. The fall intermonsoon (SON) initially had moderate convective systems and mean ocean heating, with a transition to drier winds and mean ocean heat loss in the last month. Observed surface freshwater flux applied to a layer of the observed thickness produced drops in salinity with timing and magnitude similar to the initial drops in salinity in the summer monsoon, but did not reproduce the salinity variability of the fall intermonsoon. Observed surface heat flux has the potential to cause the temperature trends of the different seasons, but uncertainty in how shortwave radiation is absorbed in the upper ocean limits quantifying the role of surface forcing in the evolution of mixed layer temperature.

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Hemantha W. Wijesekera, Emily Shroyer, Amit Tandon, M. Ravichandran, Debasis Sengupta, S. U. P. Jinadasa, Harindra J. S. Fernando, Neeraj Agrawal, K. Arulananthan, G. S. Bhat, Mark Baumgartner, Jared Buckley, Luca Centurioni, Patrick Conry, J. Thomas Farrar, Arnold L. Gordon, Verena Hormann, Ewa Jarosz, Tommy G. Jensen, Shaun Johnston, Matthias Lankhorst, Craig M. Lee, Laura S. Leo, Iossif Lozovatsky, Andrew J. Lucas, Jennifer Mackinnon, Amala Mahadevan, Jonathan Nash, Melissa M. Omand, Hieu Pham, Robert Pinkel, Luc Rainville, Sanjiv Ramachandran, Daniel L. Rudnick, Sutanu Sarkar, Uwe Send, Rashmi Sharma, Harper Simmons, Kathleen M. Stafford, Louis St. Laurent, Karan Venayagamoorthy, Ramasamy Venkatesan, William J. Teague, David W. Wang, Amy F. Waterhouse, Robert Weller, and Caitlin B. Whalen

Abstract

Air–Sea Interactions in the Northern Indian Ocean (ASIRI) is an international research effort (2013–17) aimed at understanding and quantifying coupled atmosphere–ocean dynamics of the Bay of Bengal (BoB) with relevance to Indian Ocean monsoons. Working collaboratively, more than 20 research institutions are acquiring field observations coupled with operational and high-resolution models to address scientific issues that have stymied the monsoon predictability. ASIRI combines new and mature observational technologies to resolve submesoscale to regional-scale currents and hydrophysical fields. These data reveal BoB’s sharp frontal features, submesoscale variability, low-salinity lenses and filaments, and shallow mixed layers, with relatively weak turbulent mixing. Observed physical features include energetic high-frequency internal waves in the southern BoB, energetic mesoscale and submesoscale features including an intrathermocline eddy in the central BoB, and a high-resolution view of the exchange along the periphery of Sri Lanka, which includes the 100-km-wide East India Coastal Current (EICC) carrying low-salinity water out of the BoB and an adjacent, broad northward flow (∼300 km wide) that carries high-salinity water into BoB during the northeast monsoon. Atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) observations during the decaying phase of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) permit the study of multiscale atmospheric processes associated with non-MJO phenomena and their impacts on the marine boundary layer. Underway analyses that integrate observations and numerical simulations shed light on how air–sea interactions control the ABL and upper-ocean processes.

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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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