Quasi-biweekly mode of the Asian summer monsoon revealed in Bay of Bengal surface observations

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Lekha, J. Sree
Lucas, Andrew J.
Sukhatme, Jai
Joseph, Jossia K.
Ravichandran, M.
Kumar, N. Suresh
Farrar, J. Thomas
Sengupta, Debasis
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Asian summer monsoon has a planetary‐scale, westward propagating “quasi‐biweekly” mode of variability with a 10–25 day period. Six years of moored observations at 18°N, 89.5°E in the north Bay of Bengal (BoB) reveal distinct quasi‐biweekly variability in sea surface salinity (SSS) during summer and autumn, with peak‐to‐peak amplitude of 3–8 psu. This large‐amplitude SSS variability is not due to variations of surface freshwater flux or river runoff. We show from the moored data, satellite SSS, and reanalyses that surface winds associated with the quasi‐biweekly monsoon mode and embedded weather‐scale systems, drive SSS and coastal sea level variability in 2015 summer monsoon. When winds are calm, geostrophic currents associated with mesoscale ocean eddies transport Ganga‐Brahmaputra‐Meghna river water southward to the mooring, salinity falls, and the ocean mixed layer shallows to 1–10 m. During active (cloudy, windy) spells of quasi‐biweekly monsoon mode, directly wind‐forced surface currents carry river water away to the east and north, leading to increased salinity at the moorings, and rise of sea level by 0.1–0.5 m along the eastern and northern boundary of the bay. During July–August 2015, a shallow pool of low‐salinity river water lies in the northeastern bay. The amplitude of a 20‐day oscillation of sea surface temperature (SST) is two times larger within the fresh pool than in the saltier ocean to the west, although surface heat flux is nearly identical in the two regions. This is direct evidence that spatial‐temporal variations of BoB salinity influences sub‐seasonal SST variations, and possibly SST‐mediated monsoon air‐sea interaction.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2020. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 125(12),(2020): e2020JC016271, https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JC016271.
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Sree Lekha, J., Lucas, A. J., Sukhatme, J., Joseph, J. K., Ravichandran, M., Suresh Kumar, N., Farrar, J. T., & Sengupta, D. (2020). Quasi-biweekly mode of the Asian summer monsoon revealed in Bay of Bengal surface observations. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 125(12), e2020JC016271.
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