National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2019

Vertical propagation of mid-depth zonal currents associated with surface wind forcing in the equatorial Indian Ocean

Huang, K., M.J. McPhaden, W. Wang, Q. Xie, J. Chen, Y. Shu, Q. Wang, J. Li, J. Yao, L. Chen, and D. Wang

J. Geophys. Res., 123(10), 7290–7307, doi: 10.1029/2018JC013977, View online (2018)

The vertical propagation of middepth (200–1,500 m) zonal velocity in the equatorial Indian Ocean (EIO) and its relationship with surface wind forcing are investigated. We focus on semiannual time scales, using in situ mooring observations and an oceanic reanalysis product that can reasonably well reproduce the structure and magnitude of the observed middepth zonal velocity in the EIO. The pronounced semiannual cycle in observed middepth zonal currents indicates a clear upward phase propagation with particularly robust signatures at depths of 500–1,000 m between 3°S to 3°N, 70 to 85°E. The main characteristics of the middepth currents are consistent with vertically propagating first‐meridional‐mode Rossby wave at semiannual period. Theory suggests that equatorial Kelvin waves, forced by zonal wind variations in the western half of the basin, transfer energy downward and eastward, reflecting into Rossby waves at the eastern boundary. These reflected Rossby waves transfer energy downward and westward, contributing greatly to observed phase propagation at middepths in the EIO.

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