Proceedings of the 12th Asian Congress of Fluid Mechanics18-21 August 2008, Daejeon, Korea
MODELING INDIAN OCEAN CIRCULATION:BAY OF BENGAL FRESH PLUME AND ARABIAN SEA MINI WARM POOL
P. N. Vinayachandran*
and J. Kurian*
Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India,email@example.com
Present affiliation. Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, UCLA, USA
The Indian subcontinent divides the north Indian Ocean into two tropical basins, namely the ArabianSea and the Bay of Bengal. The Arabian Sea has high salinity whereas the salinity of the Bay of Bengal is muchlower due to the contrast in freshwater forcing of the two basins. The freshwater received by the Bay in largeamounts during the summer monsoon through river discharge is flushed out annually by ocean circulation. After thewithdrawal of the summer monsoon, the Ganga – Brahmaputra river plume flows first along the Indian coast and thenaround Sri Lanka into the Arabian Sea creating a low salinity pool in the southeastern Arabian Sea (SEAS). In thesame region, during the pre-monsoon months of February – April, a warm pool, known as the Arabian Sea MiniWarm Pool (ASMWP), which is distinctly warmer than the rest of the Indian Ocean, takes shape. In fact, this is thewarmest region in the world oceans during this period. Simulation of the river plume and its movement as well as itsimplications to thermodynamics has been a challenging problem for models of Indian Ocean. Here we address theseissues using an ocean general circulation model – first we show that the model is capable of reproducing fresh plumesin the Bay of Bengal as well as its movement and then we use the model to determine the processes that lead toformation of the ASMWP.Hydrographic observations from the western Bay of Bengal have shown the presence of a fresh plumealong the northern part of the Indian coast during summer monsoon. The Indian Ocean model when forced byrealistic winds and climatological river discharge reproduces the fresh plume with reasonable accuracy. The freshplume does not advect along the Indian coast until the end of summer monsoon. The North Bay Monsoon Current,which flows eastward in the northern Bay, separates the low salinity water from the more saline southern parts of thebay and thus plays an important role in the fresh water budget of the Bay of Bengal. The model also reproduces thesurge of the fresh-plume along the Indian coast, into the Arabian Sea during northeast monsoon.Mechanisms that lead to the formation of the Arabian Sea Mini Warm Pool are investigated using severalnumerical experiments. Contrary to the existing theories, we find that salinity effects are not necessary for theformation of the ASMWP. The orographic effects of the Sahyadris (Western Ghats) and resulting reduction in windspeed leads to the formation of the ASMWP. During November – April, the SEAS behave as a low-wind heat-dominated regime where the evolution of sea surface temperature is solely determined by atmospheric forcing. Insuch regions the evolution of surface layer temperature is not dependent on the characteristics of the subsurface oceansuch as the barrier layer and temperature inversion.
The two main basins of North Indian Ocean, namely the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, havecontrasting salinity characteristics, in spite of both being located within the same latitude range and beingunder the direct influence of monsoons. The Arabian Sea has high salinity (usually in the range 35 to37psu) due to excess of evaporation over rainfall. In contrast, the Bay of Bengal has much lower salinitydue to the large influx of fresh water from river discharge and high amount of rainfall. Winds over theIndian Ocean, which is the main forcing function, reverse twice during the year. They blow from thesouthwest during May – September and from the northeast during November – January with the transitiontaking place during the months in between. Forced by these winds, circulation in the Indian Ocean has ageneral eastward direction during summer and westward during winter. These reversing currents carryhigh salinity Arabian Sea water into the Bay of Bengal and
playing a crucial role inmaintaining the freshwater and salt balance of the North Indian Ocean. Quantitatively accurate simulationof the resulting seasonal distribution of salinity as well as capturing the salinity effects on sea surfacetemperature (SST) is a major challenge for models of the Indian Ocean. This study presents a simulation
of the Indian Ocean circulation, temperature and salinity that compares remarkably well with theobservations, using an ocean general circulation model.