National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2013

Intraseasonal variations in the surface layer heat balance of the central equatorial Indian Ocean

McPhaden, M.J., and G.R. Foltz

Geophys. Res. Lett., 40(11), 2737–2741, doi: 10.1002/grl.50536 (2013)

We examine the ocean mixed layer response to intraseasonal atmospheric forcing using moored time series data in the central equatorial Indian Ocean for October 2004 to March 2005, a period coincident with two active phases of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO). Both MJO events were accompanied by a sea surface temperature decrease that was partially the consequence of reduced net surface heat flux. In addition, during the first event in October–November 2004, advection by an enhanced Wyrtki Jet contributed substantial cooling, while during the second event in December 2004 to January 2005, vertical processes, most likely related to entrainment mixing, were pronounced. Heavy rainfall at the mooring location during the first event may have contributed to the formation of a 30–40 m thick barrier layer that limited turbulent vertical transfers between the mixed layer and the thermocline. There was no barrier layer present during the second event, which presumably allowed for much freer vertical turbulent exchanges.

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