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Indian Ocean and monsoon coupled interactions in a warming environment

Swapna, P and Krishnan, R and Wallace, JM (2014) Indian Ocean and monsoon coupled interactions in a warming environment. Climate Dynamics, 42 (9-10). pp. 2439-2454.

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Several studies have drawn attention to the steady warming of the equatorial and tropical Indian Ocean (IO) sea surface temperature (SST) observed during recent decades. An intriguing aspect of the IO SST warming trend is that it is has been accompanied by a pronounced weakening of the large-scale boreal summer monsoon circulation. Based on a detailed diagnostic analysis of observed datasets, reanalysis products and IPCC AR4 coupled model output, this study examines how the observed changes in the summer monsoon circulation could have contributed to this SST warming trend. The present results reveal that the weakening trend of the summer monsoon cross-equatorial flow has favored a reorientation of surface westerlies towards the equatorial IO during recent decades, relative to summer monsoons of earlier decades, which were dominated by stronger cross-equatorial flow. Our analysis suggests that the weakening of the summer monsoon cross-equatorial flow has in turn significantly accelerated the SST warming in the central equatorial IO. While the trend in the equatorial westerlies has promoted downwelling and thermocline deepening in the eastern equatorial IO, the central equatorial IO warming is attributed to reduced upwelling in response to a weakening trend of the wind-stress curl. The observed trends in Indian monsoon rainfall and the near-equatorial SST warming are shown to be closely related to variations in the meridional gradient of the monsoon zonal winds. An examination of the twentieth century simulations from 22 IPCC AR4 models, suggests that some models capture the recent equatorial IO warming associated with the weakened summer monsoon circulation reasonably well. The individual member models, however, exhibit significant inter-model variations in representing the observed response of the IO and monsoon coupled system.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Springer.
Uncontrolled Keywords: atmospheric circulation; downwelling; equatorial dynamics; global warming; monsoon; rainfall; sea surface temperature; summer; thermocline; westerly; wind stress; zonal wind, Indian Ocean
Subjects: Meteorology and Climatology
Depositing User: IITM Library
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2014 07:04
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2014 07:04

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