Articles | Volume 8, issue 2
Research article
30 Mar 2012
Research article |  | 30 Mar 2012

Mesoscale variability of water masses in the Arabian Sea as revealed by ARGO floats

X. Carton, P. L'Hegaret, and R. Baraille

Abstract. By analysing ARGO float data over the last four years, a few aspects of the mesoscale variability of water masses in the Arabian Sea are described.

The Red Sea Outflow Water (RSOW) is concentrated in the Southwestern Gulf of Aden, in particular when a cyclonic gyre predominates in this region. Salinities of 36.5 and temperatures of 16 °C are found in this area at depths between 600 and 1000 m. RSOW is more dilute in the eastern part of the Gulf, where intense and relatively barotropic gyres mix it with Indian ocean Central Water. RSOW is also detected along the northeastern coast of Socotra, and fragments of RSOW are found between one and three degrees of latitude north of this island. In the whole Gulf of Aden, the correlation between the deep motions of the floats and the sea-level anomaly measured by altimetry is strong, at regional scale. The finer scale details of the float trajectories are not sampled by altimetry and are often related to the anomalous water masses that the floats encounter.

The Persian Gulf Water (PGW) is found in the float profiles near Ras ash Sharbatat (near 57° E, 18° N), again with 36.5 in salinity and about 18–19 °C in temperature. These observations were achieved in winter when the southwestward monsoon currents can advect PGW along the South Arabian coast. Fragments of PGW were also observed in the Arabian Sea between 18 and 20° N and 63 and 65° E in summer, showing that this water mass can escape the Gulf of Oman southeastward, during that season.

Kinetic energy distributions of floats with respect to distance or angle share common features between the two regions (Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea), in particular peaks at 30, 50 and 150 km scales and along the axis of monsoon currents. Hydrological measurements by floats are also influenced by the seasonal variations of PGW and RSOW in these regions.