AbstractBoth surface and subsurface salinity variability associated with positive Indian Ocean dipole (pIOD) events and its impacts on the sea surface temperature (SST) evolution are investigated through analysis of observational/reanalysis data and sensitivity experiments with a one-dimensional mixed layer model. During the pIOD, negative (positive) sea surface salinity (SSS) anomalies appear in the central-eastern equatorial Indian Ocean (southeastern tropical Indian Ocean). In addition to these SSS anomalies, positive (negative) salinity anomalies are found near the pycnocline in the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean (southern tropical Indian Ocean). A salinity balance analysis shows that these subsurface salinity anomalies are mainly generated by zonal and vertical salt advection anomalies induced by anomalous currents associated with the pIOD. These salinity anomalies stabilize (destabilize) the upper ocean stratification in the central-eastern equatorial (southeastern tropical) Indian Ocean. By decomposing observed densities into contribution from temperature and salinity anomalies, it is shown that the contribution from anomalous salinity stratification is comparable to that from anomalous thermal stratification. Furthermore, impacts of these salinity anomalies on the SST evolution are quantified for the first time using a one-dimensional mixed layer model. Since enhanced salinity stratification in the central-eastern equatorial Indian Ocean suppresses vertical mixing, significant warming of about 0.3°–0.5°C occurs. On the other hand, stronger vertical mixing associated with reduced salinity stratification results in significant SST cooling of about 0.2°–0.5°C in the southeastern tropical Indian Ocean. These results suggest that variations in salinity may potentially play a crucial role in the evolution of the pIOD.
Journal of Climate – American Meteorological Society
Published: Oct 1, 2017
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