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Gengxin Chen, Weiqing Han, Yuanlong Li, Jinglong Yao, and Dongxiao Wang

Abstract

By analyzing in situ observations and conducting a series of ocean general circulation model experiments, this study investigates the physical processes controlling intraseasonal variability (ISV) of the Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC) of the Indian Ocean. ISV of the EUC leads to time-varying water exchanges between the western and eastern equatorial Indian Ocean. For the 2001–14 period, standard deviations of the EUC transport variability are 1.92 and 1.77 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) in the eastern and western basins, respectively. The ISV of the EUC is predominantly caused by the wind forcing effect of atmospheric intraseasonal oscillations (ISOs) but through dramatically different ocean dynamical processes in the eastern and western basins. The stronger ISV in the eastern basin is dominated by the reflected Rossby waves associated with intraseasonal equatorial zonal wind forcing. It takes 20–30 days to set up an intraseasonal EUC anomaly through the Kelvin and Rossby waves associated with the first and second baroclinic modes. In the western basin, the peak intraseasonal EUC anomaly is generated by the zonal pressure gradient force, which is set up by radiating equatorial Kelvin and Rossby waves induced by the equatorial wind stress. Directly forced and reflected Rossby waves from the eastern basin propagate westward, contributing to intraseasonal zonal current near the surface but having weak impact on the peak ISV of the EUC.

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Gengxin Chen, Weiqing Han, Yuanlong Li, and Dongxiao Wang

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The equatorial eastern Indian Ocean (EIO) upwelling occurs in the Indian Ocean warm pool, differing from the equatorial Pacific and Atlantic upwelling that occurs in the cold tongue. By analyzing observations and performing ocean model experiments, this paper quantifies the remote versus local forcing in causing interannual variability of the equatorial EIO upwelling from 2001 to 2011 and elucidates the associated processes. For all seasons, interannual variability of thermocline depth in the EIO, as an indicator of upwelling, is dominated by remote forcing from equatorial Indian Ocean winds, which drive Kelvin waves that propagate along the equator and subsequently along the Sumatra–Java coasts. Upwelling has prominent signatures in sea surface temperature (SST) and chlorophyll-a concentration but only in boreal summer–fall (May–October). Local forcing plays a larger role than remote forcing in producing interannual SST anomaly (SSTA). During boreal summer–fall, when the mean thermocline is relatively shallow, SSTA is primarily driven by the upwelling process, with comparable contributions from remote and local forcing effects. In contrast, during boreal winter–spring (November–April), when the mean thermocline is relatively deep, SSTA is controlled by surface heat flux and decoupled from thermocline variability. Advection affects interannual SSTA in all cases. The remote and local winds that drive the interannual variability of the equatorial EIO upwelling are closely associated with Indian Ocean dipole events and to a lesser degree with El Niño–Southern Oscillation.

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Gengxin Chen, Weiqing Han, Yuanlong Li, Michael J. McPhaden, Ju Chen, Weiqiang Wang, and Dongxiao Wang

Abstract

This paper reports on strong, intraseasonal, upper-ocean meridional currents observed in the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal (BOB) and the equator and elucidates the underlying physical processes responsible for them. In situ measurements from a subsurface mooring at 5°N, 90.5°E reveal strong intraseasonal variability of the meridional current with an amplitude of ~0.4 m s−1 and a typical period of 30–50 days in the upper 150 m, which by far exceeds the magnitudes of the mean flow and seasonal cycle. Such prominent intraseasonal variability is, however, not seen in zonal current at the same location. Further analysis suggests that the observed intraseasonal flows are closely associated with westward-propagating eddylike sea surface height anomalies (SSHAs) along 5°N. The eddylike SSHAs are largely manifestations of symmetric Rossby waves, which result primarily from intraseasonal wind stress forcing in the equatorial waveguide and reflection of the equatorial Kelvin waves at the eastern boundary. Since the wave signals are generally symmetric about the equator, similar variability is also seen at 5°S but with weaker intensity because of the inclined coastline at the eastern boundary. The Rossby waves propagate westward, causing pronounced intraseasonal SSHA and meridional current in the upper ocean across the entire southern BOB between 84° and 94°E. They greatly weaken in the western Indian Basin, but zonal currents near the equator remain relatively strong.

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Ke Huang, Weiqing Han, Dongxiao Wang, Weiqiang Wang, Qiang Xie, Ju Chen, and Gengxin Chen

Abstract

This paper investigates the features of the Equatorial Intermediate Current (EIC) in the Indian Ocean and its relationship with basin resonance at the semiannual time scale by using in situ observations, reanalysis output, and a continuously stratified linear ocean model (LOM). The observational results show that the EIC is characterized by prominent semiannual variations with velocity reversals and westward phase propagation and that it is strongly influenced by the pronounced second baroclinic mode structure but with identifiable vertical phase propagation. Similar behavior is found in the reanalysis data and LOM results. The simulation of wind-driven equatorial wave dynamics in the LOM reveals that the observed variability of the EIC can be largely explained by the equatorial basin resonance at the semiannual period, when the second baroclinic Rossby wave reflected from the eastern boundary intensifies the directly forced equatorial Kelvin and Rossby waves in the basin interior. The sum of the first 10 modes can reproduce the main features of the EIC. Among these modes, the resonant second baroclinic mode makes the largest contribution, which dominates the vertical structure, semiannual cycle, and westward phase propagation of the EIC. The other 9 modes, however, are also important, and the superposition of the first 10 modes produces downward energy propagation in the equatorial Indian Ocean.

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Gengxin Chen, Weiqing Han, Yuanlong Li, Dongxiao Wang, and Michael J. McPhaden

Abstract

This paper investigates the structure and dynamics of the Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC) of the Indian Ocean by analyzing in situ observations and reanalysis data and performing ocean model experiments using an ocean general circulation model and a linear continuously stratified ocean model. The results show that the EUC regularly occurs in each boreal winter and spring, particularly during February and April, consistent with existing studies. The EUC generally has a core depth near the 20°C isotherm and can be present across the equatorial basin. The EUC reappears during summer–fall of most years, with core depth located at different longitudes and depths. In the western basin, the EUC results primarily from equatorial Kelvin and Rossby waves directly forced by equatorial easterly winds. In the central and eastern basin, however, reflected Rossby waves from the eastern boundary play a crucial role. While the first two baroclinic modes make the largest contribution, intermediate modes 3–8 are also important. The summer–fall EUC tends to occur in the western basin but exhibits obvious interannual variability in the eastern basin. During positive Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) years, the eastern basin EUC results largely from Rossby waves reflected from the eastern boundary, with directly forced Kelvin and Rossby waves also having significant contributions. However, the eastern basin EUC disappears during negative IOD and normal years because westerly wind anomalies force a westward pressure gradient force and thus westward subsurface current, which cancels the eastward subsurface flow induced by eastern boundary–reflected Rossby waves. Interannual variability of zonal equatorial wind that drives the EUC variability is dominated by the zonal sea surface temperature (SST) gradients associated with IOD and is much less influenced by equatorial wind associated with Indian monsoon rainfall strength.

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Gengxin Chen, Dongxiao Wang, Weiqing Han, Ming Feng, Fan Wang, Yuanlong Li, Ju Chen, and Arnold L. Gordon

Abstract

In the eastern tropical Indian Ocean, intraseasonal variability (ISV) affects the regional oceanography and marine ecosystems. Mooring and satellite observations documented two periods of unusually weak ISV during the past two decades, associated with suppressed baroclinic instability of the South Equatorial Current. Regression analysis and model simulations suggest that the exceptionally weak ISVs were caused primarily by the extreme El Niño events and modulated to a lesser extent by the Indian Ocean dipole. Additional observations confirm that the circulation balance in the Indo-Pacific Ocean was disrupted during the extreme El Niño events, impacting the Indonesian Throughflow Indian Ocean dynamics. This research provides substantial evidence for large-scale modes modulating ISV and the abnormal Indo-Pacific dynamical connection during extreme climate modes.

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Ke Huang, Dongxiao Wang, Weiqing Han, Ming Feng, Gengxin Chen, Weiqiang Wang, Ju Chen, and Jian Li

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.

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Gengxin Chen, Weiqing Han, Xiaolin Zhang, Linlin Liang, Huijie Xue, Ke Huang, Yunkai He, Jian Li, and Dongxiao Wang

Abstract

Using 4-yr mooring observations and ocean circulation model experiments, this study characterizes the spatial and temporal variability of the Equatorial Intermediate Current (EIC; 200–1200 m) in the Indian Ocean and investigates the causes. The EIC is dominated by seasonal and intraseasonal variability, with interannual variability being weak. The seasonal component dominates the midbasin with a predominant semiannual period of ~166 days but weakens toward east and west where the EIC generally exhibits large intraseasonal variations. The resonant second and fourth baroclinic modes at the semiannual period make the largest contribution to the EIC, determining the overall EIC structures. The higher baroclinic modes, however, modify the EIC’s vertical structures, forming multiple cores during some time periods. The EIC intensity has an abrupt change near 73°E, which is strong to the east and weak to the west. Model simulation suggests that the abrupt change is caused primarily by the Maldives, which block the propagation of equatorial waves. The Maldives impede the equatorial Rossby waves, reducing the EIC’s standard deviation associated with reflected Rossby waves by ~48% and directly forced waves by 20%. Mode decomposition further demonstrates that the semiannual resonance amplitude of the second baroclinic mode reduces by 39% because of the Maldives. However, resonance amplitude of the four baroclinic mode is less affected, because the Maldives fall in the node region of mode 4’s resonance. The research reveals the spatiotemporal variability of the poorly understood EIC, contributing to our understanding of equatorial wave–current dynamics.

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Lili Zeng, Gengxin Chen, Ke Huang, Ju Chen, Yunkai He, Fenghua Zhou, Yikai Yang, Zhanlin Liang, Qihua Peng, Rui Shi, Tilak Priyadarshana Gamage, Rongyu Chen, Jian Li, Zhenqiu Zhang, Zewen Wu, Linghui Yu, and Dongxio Wang

Abstract

As an important part of the Indo-pacific warm pool, the Indian Ocean has great significance for research on the Asian monsoon system and global climate change. From the 1960s onwards, several international and regional programs have led to important new insights into the Indian Ocean. The eastern Tropical Indian Ocean Observation Network (TIOON) was established in 2010. The TIOON consists of two parts: large-scope observations and moored measurements. Large-scope observations are performed by the eastern tropical Indian Ocean Comprehensive Experiment Cruise (TIO-CEC). Moored measurements are executed by the TIOON mooring array and the hydrological meteorological buoy. By 2019, ten successful TIOON TIO-CEC voyages had been accomplished, making this mission the most comprehensive scientific investigation in China. The ten years of TIO-CEC voyages have collected approximately 1,006 temperature/salinity profiles, 703 GPS radiosonde profiles and numerous other observations in the Indian Ocean. To supplement the existing buoy array in the Indian Ocean, an enhanced TIOON mooring array consisting of eight sub-thermocline acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) moorings, was established since 2013. The TIOON mooring equipped with both upward-looking and downward-looking WHLS75K ADCP provide valuable current monitoring information to depth of 1,000 m in the Indian Ocean. To improve air-sea interaction monitoring, two real-time hydrological meteorological buoys were launched in 2019 and 2020 in the equatorial Indian Ocean. A better understanding of the Indian Ocean requires continuous and long-term observations. The TIOON program and other aspiring field investigation programs will be promoted in the future.

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Ke Huang, Dongxiao Wang, Ming Feng, Weiqing Han, Gengxin Chen, Chaojiao Sun, Xiaolin Zhang, Qiang Xie, Weiqiang Wang, Qinyan Liu, and Jinglong Yao

Abstract

The first baroclinic mode Rossby wave is known to be of critical importance to the annual sea level variability in the southern tropical Indian Ocean (STIO; 0°–20°S, 50°–115°E). In this study, an analysis of continuously stratified linear ocean model reveals that the second baroclinic mode also has significant contribution to the annual sea level variability (as high as 81% of the first baroclinic mode). The contributions of residual high-order modes (3 ≤ n ≤ 25) are much less. The superposition of low-order (first and second) baroclinic Rossby waves (BRWs) primarily contribute to the high energy center of sea level variability at ~10°S in the STIO and the vertical energy penetration below the seasonal thermocline. We have found that 1) the low-order BRWs, having longer zonal wavelengths and weaker damping, can couple more efficiently to the local large-scale wind forcing than the high-order modes and 2) the zonal coherency of the Ekman pumping results in the latitudinal energy maximum of low-order BRWs. Overall, this study extends the traditional analysis to suggest the characteristics of the second baroclinic mode need to be taken into account in interpreting the annual variability in the STIO.

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