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Yuhong Zhang
and
Yan Du

Abstract

This study analyzed the downwelling Rossby waves in the south Indian Ocean (IO)-induced spring asymmetric mode and the relationship with the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) event based on observations and reanalysis datasets. The westward downwelling Rossby waves favor significant sea surface temperature (SST) warming in the Seychelles thermocline dome that triggers atmosphere response and the asymmetric mode in spring. The zonal sea level pressure gradient causes anomalous easterly winds in the central and eastern equatorial IO, cooling the SST off Sumatra–Java. Meanwhile, the remainder of the downwelling Rossby waves reach the west coast, transform to northward coastal-trapped waves, and then reflect as eastward downwelling Kelvin waves along the equator. The downwelling Kelvin waves reach the Sumatra–Java coast during late spring to early summer, favoring SST warming in the southeastern tropical Indian Ocean. Thus, there are two types of ocean–atmosphere response almost at the same time along the equator. The final SST status depends on which process is stronger and, as a consequence, triggers a negative or a positive phase of the IOD event in the fall season. The results show four positive and three negative IOD events related to the above processes from 1960 to 2019. The strong downwelling Rossby waves are easier to induce an intense asymmetric mode and negative IOD event, usually associated with preceding strong El Niño in the Pacific. In contrast, the weak downwelling Rossby waves tend to induce a weak asymmetric mode and positive IOD event, usually associated with preceding weak El Niño or anomalous anticyclonic atmospheric circulation in the southeastern IO.

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Qiwei Sun
and
Yan Du

Abstract

Based on the abrupt-4XCO2 scenario in phase 6 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6), this study investigates the response of the rainfall changes to El Niño–like SST warming and the role of ocean dynamical processes in the salinity changes in the tropical Pacific. The results show that the Walker circulation weakening and eastward shift, related to El Niño–like SST warming, dominates the zonal precipitation change. Precipitation decreases (increases) in the Maritime Continent (the equatorial Pacific), partly offsetting the effect of specific humidity. At the same time, the El Niño–like warming triggers convergence of meridional winds, which leads to a precipitation increase in the equatorial Pacific and a decrease in the intertropical convergence zone and the South Pacific convergence zone, following the “warmer-get-wetter” mechanism. Unlike the spatial pattern of precipitation changes, the sea surface salinity changes become fresher in the tropical western Pacific, related to the precipitation and the mean horizontal advection. The precipitation increase leads to negative salinity anomalies in the equatorial central Pacific. The westward climatological zonal currents transport the negative salinity anomalies westward. The meridional currents advect the salinity anomalies to both sides of the equator, partly offsetting the contribution of the freshwater flux on the salinity change. In addition, shallower mixed layer depth and weakening upwelling bring less high-salinity water to the surface and impact salinity redistribution through the vertical process in the equatorial regions.

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Yan Du
and
Yuhong Zhang

Abstract

This study investigates sea surface salinity (SSS) variations in the tropical Indian Ocean (IO) using the Aquarius/Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas-D (SAC-D) and the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite data and the Argo observations during July 2010–July 2014. Compared to the Argo observations, the satellite datasets generally provide SSS maps with higher space–time resolution, particularly in the regions where Argo floats are sparse. Both Aquarius and SMOS well captured the SSS variations associated with the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) mode. Significant SSS changes occurred in the central equatorial IO, along the Java–Sumatra coast, and south of the equatorial IO, due to ocean circulation variations. During the negative IOD events in 2010, 2013, and 2014, westerly wind anomalies strengthened along the equator, weakening coastal upwelling off Java and Sumatra and decreasing SSS. South of the equatorial IO, an anomalous cyclonic gyre changed the tropical circulation, which favored the eastward high-salinity tongue along the equator and the westward low-saline tongue in the south. An upwelling Rossby wave favored the increase of SSS farther to the south. During the positive IOD events in 2011 and 2012, the above-mentioned processes reversed, although the decrease of SSS was weaker in magnitude.

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Yifan Xia
and
Yan Du

Abstract

In this study, the upper-ocean absolute geostrophic currents in the southern Indian Ocean are constructed using Argo temperature and salinity data from the middepth (1000 m) zonal velocity derived from the Argo float trajectory. The results reveal alternating quasi-zonal striation-like structures of middepth zonal velocity in the equatorial and southern tropical Indian Ocean. Specifically, the eastward time-mean flows are located at the equator and 2°, 5°, 8°, 13°, 16°, 18°–19°, and 21°–22°S, with a meridional scale of ∼300 km. The generation mechanisms of the striation-like zonal velocity structure differ between the near-equatorial and off-equatorial regions. The triad of baroclinic Rossby wave instability plays a significant role in near-equatorial striations. In the south, the high potential vorticity (PV) of Antarctic intermediate water and low PV of southern Indian Ocean Subantarctic Mode Water lead to strong baroclinic instability, which increases the eddy kinetic energy in the middepth layer, thus contributing to a turbulent PV gradient. The convergence/divergence of the eddy PV flux generates the quasi-zonal striations. The meridional scale of the striations is controlled by the most unstable wavelength of baroclinic instability, which explains the observations.

Significance Statement

The middepth zonal velocity resembles a system of eastward/westward jets with a considerably smaller width than the larger-scale ocean surface circulation. Such a phenomenon always occurs in a turbulent ocean that presents eddy or eddy–mean flow interactions. This study used float observations to reveal a robust middepth zonal velocity in the southern tropical Indian Ocean, where the width of the eastward time-mean flows is approximately 300 km. Smaller eddies drive the zonal currents with a smaller width, and the energy of the eddies is released from the unstable vertical structure at middepths. This study provides new insights into the generation mechanism of small-width zonal current structures in the deep ocean.

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Yuhong Zhang
,
Yan Du
, and
Ming Feng

Abstract

In this study, multiple time scale variability of the salinity dipole mode in the tropical Indian Ocean (S-IOD) is revealed based on the 57-yr Ocean Reanalysis System 4 (ORAS4) sea surface salinity (SSS) reanalysis product and associated observations. On the interannual time scale, S-IOD is highly correlated with strong Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) and ENSO variability, with ocean advection forced by wind anomalies along the equator and precipitation anomalies in the southeastern tropical Indian Ocean (IO) dominating the SSS variations in the northern and southern poles of the S-IOD, respectively. S-IOD variability is also associated with the decadal modulation of the Indo-Pacific Walker circulation, with a stronger signature at its southern pole. Decadal variations of the equatorial IO winds and precipitations in the central IO force zonal ocean advection anomalies that contribute to the SSS variability in the northern pole of S-IOD on the decadal time scale. Meanwhile, oceanic dynamics dominates the SSS variability in the southern pole of S-IOD off Western Australia. Anomalous ocean advection transports the fresher water from low latitudes to the region off Western Australia, with additional contributions from the Indonesian Throughflow. Furthermore, the southern pole of S-IOD is associated with the thermocline variability originated from the tropical northwestern Pacific through the waveguide in the Indonesian Seas, forced by decadal Pacific climate variability. A deepening (shoaling) thermocline strengthens (weakens) the southward advection of surface freshwater into the southern pole of S-IOD and contributes to the high (low) SSS signatures off Western Australia.

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Yan Du
,
Wenju Cai
, and
Yanling Wu

Abstract

The tropical Indian Ocean dipole/zonal mode (IOD) is phase locked with the austral winter and spring seasons. This study describes three types of the IOD in terms of their peak time and duration. In particular, the authors focus on a new type that develops in May–June and matures in July–August, which is distinctively different from the canonical IOD, which may develop later and peak in September–November or persist from June to November. Such “unseasonable” IOD events are only observed since the mid-1970s, a period after which the tropical Indian Ocean has a closer relationship with the Pacific Ocean. The unseasonable IOD is an intrinsic mode of the Indian Ocean and occurs without an ensuing El Niño. A change in winds along the equator is identified as a major forcing. The wind change is in turn related to a weakening Walker circulation in the Indian Ocean sector in austral winter, which is in part forced by the rapid Indian Ocean warming. Thus, although the occurrence of the unseasonable IOD may be partially influenced by oceanic variability, the authors’ results suggest an influence from the Indian Ocean warming. This suggestion, however, awaits further investigation using fully coupled climate models.

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Yan Du
,
Tangdong Qu
, and
Gary Meyers

Abstract

Using results from the Simple Ocean Data Assimilation (SODA), this study assesses the mixed layer heat budget to identify the mechanisms that control the interannual variation of sea surface temperature (SST) off Java and Sumatra. The analysis indicates that during the positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) years, cold SST anomalies are phase locked with the season cycle. They may exceed −3°C near the coast of Sumatra and extend as far westward as 80°E along the equator. The depth of the thermocline has a prominent influence on the generation and maintenance of SST anomalies. In the normal years, cooling by upwelling–entrainment is largely counterbalanced by warming due to horizontal advection. In the cooling episode of IOD events, coastal upwelling–entrainment is enhanced, and as a result of mixed layer shoaling, the barrier layer no longer exists, so that the effect of upwelling–entrainment can easily reach the surface mixed layer. Horizontal advection spreads the cold anomaly to the interior tropical Indian Ocean. Near the coast of Java, the northern branch of an anomalous anticyclonic circulation spreads the cold anomaly to the west near the equator. Both the anomalous advection and the enhanced, wind-driven upwelling generate the cold SST anomaly of the positive IOD. At the end of the cooling episode, the enhanced surface thermal forcing overbalances the cooling effect by upwelling/entrainment, and leads to a warming in SST off Java and Sumatra.

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Tianyu Wang
,
Yan Du
, and
Minyang Wang

Abstract

An Argo simulation system is used to provide synthetic Lagrangian trajectories based on the Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean Model, phase II (ECCO2). In combination with ambient Eulerian velocity at the reference layer (1000 m) from the model, quantitative metrics of the Lagrangian trajectory–derived velocities are computed. The result indicates that the biases induced by the derivation algorithm are strongly linked with ocean dynamics. In low latitudes, Ekman currents and vertically sheared geostrophic currents influence both the magnitude and the direction of the derivation velocity vectors. The maximal shear-induced biases exist near the equator with the amplitudes reaching up to about 1.2 cm s−1. The angles of the shear biases are pronounced in the low-latitude oceans, ranging from −8° to 8°. Specifically, the study shows an overlooked bias from the float drifting motions that mainly occurs in the western boundary current and Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) regions. In these regions, a recently reported horizontal acceleration measured via Lagrangian floats is significantly associated with the strong eddy–jet interactions. The acceleration could induce an overestimation of Eulerian current velocity magnitudes. For the common Argo floats with a 9-day float parking period, the derivation speed biases induced by velocity acceleration would be as large as 3 cm s−1, approximately 12% of the ambient velocity. It might have implications to map the mean middepth ocean currents from Argo trajectories, as well as to understand the dynamics of eddy–jet interactions in the ocean.

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Yu Hong
,
Ying Zhang
, and
Yan Du

Abstract

The Southern Ocean (SO) is one of the key regions in absorbing and storing anthropogenic heat. An analysis of the CMIP6 models finds a distinct warming minimum/cooling and freshening in the subtropical ocean thermocline of the south Indian Ocean (SIO) under a medium-emission scenario (SSP245). The warming minimum/cooling has also been found in other warming scenarios in previous studies. However, the freshening here has received less attention. On account of increased precipitation in the models, the SO high latitudes get fresher in a warmer world. We show that this freshening anomaly is advected to the north of the deep mixed layer by the horizontal current and then subducts into the ocean interior in the SIO. As a result, the isopycnal surfaces become fresher, deeper, and cooler. This freshening and cooling signal then propagates to the north along isopycnals through the subtropical gyre and leads to freshening and cooling on the depth coordinates where the vertical movement of isopycnals (heaving) is insignificant. Lacking deep-enough mixed layers, the other two basins show smaller freshening and cooling signs in the models. Here the importance of freshening in temperature redistribution in the ocean interior in the SIO under extensive global warming is emphasized. The result helps interpret the future heat storage in the SO in a warmer world.

Significance Statement

The Southern Ocean (SO) is a key region in absorbing and storing anthropogenic heat. The observed past and simulated future warming in the SO show maximum values between 40° and 45°S and minimum values downward and northward of the deep mixed layers. CMIP6 models show the same pattern, and it is found that this pattern is most distinguished in the south Indian Ocean. The freshening anomaly advected to the deep mixed layers subducts into the ocean interior, leading to freshening and cooling signals on isopycnals. These signals spread with the subtropical gyre and induce warming minimum/cooling there. The result would help interpret the warming pattern in the SO in a warmer world.

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Gen Li
,
Yan Du
,
Haiming Xu
, and
Baohua Ren

Abstract

An excessive cold tongue error in the equatorial Pacific has prevailed in several generations of climate models. However, the causes of this problem remain a mystery, partly owing to uncertainty and/or a lack of observational datasets. Based on the multimodel ensemble from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), this study introduces a novel intermodel approach to identify the bias source by going beyond comparison with observational datasets. Intermodel statistics show that the excessive cold tongue bias could be traced back to a too strong oceanic dynamic cooling linked to a too shallow thermocline along the equatorial Pacific. A heat budget analysis suggests that the excessive oceanic dynamic cooling is balanced by the surface latent heat flux (LHF) adjustment. This is consistent with a variety of oceanic and atmospheric observations but at odds with the popular objectively analyzed air–sea heat fluxes (OAFlux) products. Further analyses suggest an alarming overestimation of OAFlux net surface heat flux (Q net) into the tropical Pacific, mainly ascribed to observational uncertainly in air specific humidity. Implications for intermodel statistics in assessing model processes, validating observational data, and regulating future climate projections are discussed.

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