Received: 26 Mar 2008 – Discussion started: 09 Jun 2008
Abstract. The circulation in the North Indian Ocean (NIO henceforth) is highly seasonally variable. Periodically reversing monsoon winds (southwesterly during summer and northeasterly during winter) give rise to seasonally reversing current systems off the coast of Somalia and India. In addition to this annual monsoon cycle, the NIO circulation varies semiannually because of equatorial currents reversing four times each year. These descriptions are typical, but how does the NIO circulation behave during anomalous years, during an Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) for instance? Unfortunately, in situ observational data are rather sparse and reliance has to be placed on numerical models to understand this variability. In this paper, we estimate the surface current variability from a 12-year hindcast of the NIO for 1993–2004 using a 1/2° resolution circulation model that assimilates both altimetric sea surface height anomalies and sea surface temperature. Presented in this paper is an examination of surface currents in the NIO basin during the IOD. During the non-IOD period of 2000–2004, the typical equatorial circulation of the NIO reverses four times each year and transports water across the basin preventing a large sea surface temperature difference between the western and eastern NIO. Conversely, IOD years are noted for strong easterly and westerly wind outbursts along the equator. The impact of these outbursts on the NIO circulation is to reverse the direction of the currents – when compared to non-IOD years – during the summer for negative IOD events (1996 and 1998) and during the fall for positive IOD events (1994 and 1997). This reversal of current direction leads to large temperature differences between the western and eastern NIO.
How to cite. Brown, J., Clayson, C. A., Kantha, L., and Rojsiraphisal, T.: North Indian Ocean variability during the Indian Ocean dipole, Ocean Sci. Discuss., 5, 213–253, https://doi.org/10.5194/osd-5-213-2008, 2008.