Seasonal transition of SST anomalies in the tropical Indian Ocean during El Niño and Indian Ocean dipole years

Hiroki Tokinaga, Youichi Tanimoto

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We investigated seasonal transition of dominant modes of sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTAs) in the tropical Indian Ocean, analyzing the National Centers for Environmental Prediction/National Center for Atmospheric Research reanalysis products (NCEP/NCAR reanalyses), the Global sea-Ice and SST dataset (GISST2.3b), and the Simple Ocean Data Assimilation (SODA). During the coincidence years when the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is followed by the major El Niño during boreal autumn-winter season, surface dipole structure in the tropical Indian Ocean tends to turn into the basinwide warm pattern in the November-December period. In contrast, the subsurface dipole keeps its structure from boreal autumn to winter. Such a surface-confined transition of SSTA is induced by latent heat flux anomalies in the eastern Indian Ocean. These latent heat flux anomalies are associated with changes in scalar wind speed anomalies. The zonal direction of climatological surface winds changes from easterly into westerly over the eastern Indian Ocean in November-December, while the anomalous Walker circulation during the El Niño induces easterly surface wind anomalies to persist there. As a result, deceleration of scalar wind speed takes place during boreal winter, and leads to warming of SST through suppressed evaporation. In addition to these latent heat flux anomalies, incoming solar radiation anomalies contribute to the net surface warming during this period. Furthermore, we discuss the role of the ocean dynamics for keeping the warm SSTAs in the western Indian Ocean.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1018
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Meteorological Society of Japan
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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