The sloshing and diapycnal meridional overturning circulations in the Indian Ocean

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  • 1 Institute of Marine Science and Technology, Shandong University, Qingdao, China, Laboratory for Regional Oceanography and Numerical Modeling, Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao, Shandong, China
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Abstract

The meridional overturning circulation (MOC) seasonality in the Indian Ocean is investigated with the ocean state estimate product, ECCO v4r3. The vertical movements of water parcels are predominantly due to the heaving of the isopycnals all over the basin except off the western coast. Aided by the linear propagation equation of long baroclinic Rossby waves, the driving factor determining the strength of the seasonal MOC in the Indian Ocean is identified as the zonally-integrated Ekman pumping anomaly, rather than the Ekman transport concluded in earlier studies. A new concept of sloshing MOC is proposed, and its difference with the classic Eulerian MOC leads to the so-called diapycnal MOC. The striking resemblance of the Eulerian and sloshing MOCs implies the seasonal variation of the Eulerian MOC in the Indian Ocean is a sloshing mode. The shallow overturning cells manifest themselves in the diapycnal MOC as the most remarkable structure. New perspectives on the upwelling branch of the shallow overturn in the Indian Ocean are offered based on diapycnal vertical velocity. The discrepancy among the observation-based estimates on the bottom inflow across 32°S of the basin is interpreted with the seasonal sloshing mode. Consequently, the “missing mixing” in the deep Indian Ocean is attributed to the overestimated diapycnal volume fluxes. Decomposition of meridional heat transport (MHT) into sloshing and diapycnal components clearly shows the dominant mechanism of MHT in the Indian Ocean in various seasons.

Denotes content that is immediately available upon publication as open access.

Corresponding author: Lei Han, lei.han@sdu.edu.cn

Abstract

The meridional overturning circulation (MOC) seasonality in the Indian Ocean is investigated with the ocean state estimate product, ECCO v4r3. The vertical movements of water parcels are predominantly due to the heaving of the isopycnals all over the basin except off the western coast. Aided by the linear propagation equation of long baroclinic Rossby waves, the driving factor determining the strength of the seasonal MOC in the Indian Ocean is identified as the zonally-integrated Ekman pumping anomaly, rather than the Ekman transport concluded in earlier studies. A new concept of sloshing MOC is proposed, and its difference with the classic Eulerian MOC leads to the so-called diapycnal MOC. The striking resemblance of the Eulerian and sloshing MOCs implies the seasonal variation of the Eulerian MOC in the Indian Ocean is a sloshing mode. The shallow overturning cells manifest themselves in the diapycnal MOC as the most remarkable structure. New perspectives on the upwelling branch of the shallow overturn in the Indian Ocean are offered based on diapycnal vertical velocity. The discrepancy among the observation-based estimates on the bottom inflow across 32°S of the basin is interpreted with the seasonal sloshing mode. Consequently, the “missing mixing” in the deep Indian Ocean is attributed to the overestimated diapycnal volume fluxes. Decomposition of meridional heat transport (MHT) into sloshing and diapycnal components clearly shows the dominant mechanism of MHT in the Indian Ocean in various seasons.

Denotes content that is immediately available upon publication as open access.

Corresponding author: Lei Han, lei.han@sdu.edu.cn
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