Bay of Bengal upper-ocean stratification and the sub-seasonal variability in convection: Role of rivers in a coupled ocean-atmosphere model
Keywords:Indian Summer Monsoon, Rivers, Monsoon intra-seasonal oscillations, mixed layer, barrier layer, low-pressure systems, Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal (BoB) receives a large amount of freshwater from rains and rivers, resulting in large upper-ocean stratification due to the freshening effect. This salinity stratification has been theorized to impact sea-surface temperature (SST) and convection on intra-seasonal time scales by affecting the ocean mixed layer and the barrier layer. This article aims to quantify the impact of salinity stratification on the sub-seasonal variability in SST and convection by using in-situ ocean observations and coupled model experiments. It is shown that monsoon intra-seasonal oscillations (MISOs) exhibit varied levels of intra-seasonal variability in SST and rainfall based on the underlying ocean conditions. The largest intra-seasonal variability in SST does not cause the largest convection variability in the north-western BoB. Instead, moderate variability in SST and rainfall associated with MISOs co-occur with deep mixed layer and thick barrier layer conditions. Realistic representation of river freshwater fluxes in a coupled ocean-atmosphere model leads to improved intra-seasonal SST and rainfall variability. Thick barrier layers in the north-western Bay attenuates the entrainment cooling of the mixed layer, and the high mixed layer heat content provides conducive oceanic conditions for the genesis of monsoon low-pressure systems (LPS), thereby affecting rainfall over India. This study has important implications for operation forecasting using coupled models.
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