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Processes controlling the surface temperature signature of the Madden-Julian Oscillation in the thermocline ridge of the Indian Ocean

Jayakumar, A and Vialard, J and Lengaigne, M and Gnanaseelan, C and McCreary, JP and Kumar, BP (2011) Processes controlling the surface temperature signature of the Madden-Julian Oscillation in the thermocline ridge of the Indian Ocean. Climate Dynamics, 37 (11-12). pp. 2217-2234.

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During boreal winter, there is a prominent maximum of intraseasonal sea-surface temperature (SST) variability associated with the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) along a Thermocline Ridge located in the southwestern Indian Ocean (5°S-10°S, 60°E-90°E; TRIO region). There is an ongoing debate about the relative importance of air-sea heat fluxes and oceanic processes in driving this intraseasonal SST variability. Furthermore, various studies have suggested that interannual variability of the oceanic structure in the TRIO region could modulate the amplitude of the MJO-driven SST response. In this study, we use observations and ocean general circulation model (OGCM) experiments to quantify these two effects over the 1997-2006 period. Observational analysis indicates that Ekman pumping does not contribute significantly (on average) to intraseasonal SST variability. It is, however, difficult to quantify the relative contribution of net heat fluxes and entrainment to SST intraseasonal variability from observations alone. We therefore use a suite of OGCM experiments to isolate the impacts of each process. During 1997-2006, wind stress contributed on average only about 20 of the intraseasonal SST variability (averaged over the TRIO region), while heat fluxes contributed about 70, with forcing by shortwave radiation (75) dominating the other flux components (25). This estimate is consistent with an independent air-sea flux product, which indicates that shortwave radiation contributes 68 of intraseasonal heat flux variability. The time scale of the heat-flux perturbation, in addition to its amplitude, is also important in controlling the intraseasonal SST signature, with longer periods favouring a larger response. There are also strong year-to-year variations in the respective role of heat fluxes and wind stress. Of the five strong cooling events identified in both observations and the model (two in 1999 and one in 2000, 2001 and 2002), intraseasonal-wind stress dominates the SST signature during 2001 and contributes significantly during 2000. Interannual variations of the subsurface thermal structure associated with the Indian Ocean Dipole or El Niño/La Niña events modulate the MJO-driven SST signature only moderately (by up to 30), mainly by changing the temperature of water entrained into the mixed layer. The primary factor that controls year-to-year changes in the amplitude of TRIO, intraseasonal SST anomalies is hence the characteristics of intraseasonal surface flux perturbations, rather than changes in the underlying oceanic state.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Springer.
Uncontrolled Keywords: air-sea interaction; annual variation; climate effect; heat flux; Madden-Julian oscillation; mixed layer; oceanic general circulation model; radiative forcing; sea surface temperature; seasonal variation; shortwave radiation; temperature anomaly; thermocline; wind stress; winter, Indian Ocean; Indian Ocean (Southwest)
Subjects: Meteorology and Climatology
Depositing User: IITM Library
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2014 10:09
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2014 10:09

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