National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2017

Zonal propagation of near surface zonal currents in relation to surface wind forcing in the equatorial Indian Ocean

Nagura, M., and M.J. McPhaden

J. Phys. Oceanogr., 46(12), 3623–3638, doi: 10.1175/JPO-D-16-0157.1 (2016)

Zonal propagation of zonal velocity along the equator in the Indian Ocean and its relationship with wind forcing are investigated with a focus on seasonal time scales using in situ observations from four acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) and an ocean reanalysis dataset. The results show that the zonal phase speed of zonal currents varies depending on season and depth in a very complicated way in relation to surface wind forcing. Surface layer zonal velocity propagates to the west in northern spring but to the east in fall in response to zonally propagating surface zonal winds, while in the pycnocline zonal phase speed is related to wind-forced ocean wave dynamics. In the western half of the analysis domain (78°–83°E), zonal phase speed in the pycnocline is eastward all year, which is attributed to the radiation of Kelvin waves forced in the western basin. In the eastern half of the domain (80°–90°E), zonal phase speed is westward at 50- to 100-m depths in northern fall, but eastward above and below, most likely due to Rossby waves generated at the eastern boundary.

Feature Publications | Outstanding Scientific Publications

Contact Sandra Bigley |