National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2013

Upper ocean variability in the Bay of Bengal during the tropical cyclones Nargis and Laila

Maneesha, K., V.S.N. Murty, M. Ravichandran, T. Lee, W. Yu, and M.J. McPhaden

Prog. Oceanogr., 106, 49–61, doi: 10.1016/j.pocean.2012.06.006 (2012)

Upper ocean variability at different stages in the evolution of the tropical cyclones Nargis and Laila is evaluated over the Bay of Bengal (BoB) during May 2008 and May 2010 respectively. Nargis initially developed on 24 April 2008; intensified twice on 27–28 April and 1 May, and eventually made landfall at Myanmar on 2 May 2008. Laila developed over the western BoB in May 2010 and moved westward towards the east coast of India. Data from the Argo Profiling floats, the Research Moored Array for African–Asian–Australian Monsoon Analysis and prediction (RAMA), and various satellite products are analyzed to evaluate upper ocean variability due to Nargis and Laila. The analysis reveals pre-conditioning of the central BoB prior to Nargis with warm (>30 °C) Sea Surface Temperature (SST), low (<33 psu) Sea Surface Salinity (SSS) and shallow (<30 m) mixed layer depths during March–April 2008. Enhanced ocean response to the right of the storm track due to Nargis includes a large SST drop by ∼1.76 °C, SSS increase up to 0.74 psu, mixed layer deepening of 32 m, shoaling of the 26 °C isotherm by 36 m and high net heat loss at the sea surface. During Nargis, strong inertial currents (up to 0.9 ms−1) were generated to the right of storm track as measured at a RAMA buoy located at 15 °N, 90 °E, producing strong turbulent mixing that lead to the deepening of mixed layer. This mixing facilitated entrainment of cold waters from as deep as 75 m and, together with net heat loss at sea surface and cyclone-induced subsurface upwelling, contributed to the observed SST cooling in the wake of the storm. A similar upper ocean response occurs during Laila, though it was a significantly weaker storm than Nargis.

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