Large freshwater fluxes into the Bay of Bengal by rainfall and river discharges result in strong salinity fronts in the bay. In this study, a high-resolution coupled atmosphere-ocean-wave model with comprehensive physics is used to model the weather, ocean circulation, and wave field in the Bay of Bengal. Our objective is to explore the submesoscale activity that occurs in a realistic coupled model that resolves mesoscales and allows part of the submesoscale field. Horizontal resolution in the atmosphere varies from 2 to 6 km and is 13 km for surface waves, while the ocean model is submesoscale permitting with resolutions as high as 1.5 km and a vertical resolution of 0.5 m in the upper 10 m. In this paper, three different cases of oceanic submesoscale features are discussed. In the first case, heavy rainfall and intense downdrafts produced by atmospheric convection are found to force submesoscale currents, temperature, and salinity anomalies in the oceanic mixed layer and impact the mesoscale flow. In a second case, strong solitary-like waves are generated by semidiurnal tides in the Andaman Sea and interact with mesoscale flows and fronts and affect submesoscale features generated along fronts. A third source of submesoscale variability is found further north in the Bay of Bengal where river outflows help maintain strong salinity gradients throughout the year. For that case, a comparison with satellite observations of sea surface height anomalies, sea surface temperature, and chlorophyll shows that the model captures the observed mesoscale eddy features of the flow field, but in addition, submesoscale upwelling and downwelling patterns associated with ageostrophic secondary circulations along density fronts are also captured by the model.
Ocean Dynamics – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 17, 2018
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