The interannual heat content variability in the tropical south Indian Ocean (SIO) and its relationship with El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is studied. The baroclinic ocean response to stochastic wind stress predicted by a simple analytical model is compared with two integrations of the ECHO-G coupled general circulation model. In one integration, ocean–atmosphere interactions are suppressed in the tropical Pacific Ocean, so that this integration does not simulate ENSO. In the other integration, interactions are allowed everywhere and ENSO is simulated. The results show that basinwide variability in the SIO heat content can be produced by two mechanisms: 1) oscillatory forcing by ENSO-related wind stress and 2) temporally stochastic and spatially coherent wind stress forcing. Previous studies have shown that transmission of energy from the tropical Pacific to the southern Indian Ocean occurs through coastal Kelvin waves along the western coast of Australia. The results in this paper confirm the occurrence of such transmission. In the ECHO-G simulations, this transmission occurs both at the annual time scale and at interannual time scales. Generation of offshore Rossby waves by these coastal Kelvin waves at interannual time scales—and, in particular, at the ENSO time scale—was found.
Journal of Physical Oceanography – American Meteorological Society
Published: Mar 20, 2004