Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 29 Issue 02

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Volume 29, No. 2
Pages 28 - 37


Air-Sea Interaction in the Bay of Bengal

By Robert A. Weller , J. Thomas Farrar, Jared Buckley, Simi Mathew, R. Venkatesan, J. Sree Lekha, Dipanjan Chaudhuri, N. Suresh Kumar , and B. Praveen Kumar 
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Article Abstract

Recent observations of surface meteorology and exchanges of heat, freshwater, and momentum between the ocean and the atmosphere in the Bay of Bengal are presented. These observations characterize air-sea interaction at 18°N, 89.5°E from December 2014 to January 2016 and also at other locations in the northern Bay of Bengal. Monsoonal variability dominated the records, with winds to the northeast in summer and to the southwest in winter. This variability included a strong annual cycle in the atmospheric forcing of the ocean in the Bay of Bengal, with the winter monsoon marked by sustained ocean heat loss resulting in ocean cooling, and the summer monsoon marked by strong storm events with dark skies and rain that also resulted in ocean cooling. The spring intermonsoon was a period of clear skies and low winds, when strong solar heating and weak wind-driven mixing led to ocean warming. The fall intermonsoon was a transitional period, with some storm events but also with enough clear skies and sunlight that ocean surface temperature rose again. Mooring and shipboard observations are used to examine the ability of model-based surface fluxes to represent air-sea interaction in the Bay of Bengal; the model-based fluxes have significant errors. The surface forcing observed at 18°N is also used together with a one-dimensional ocean model to illustrate the potential for local air-sea interaction to drive upper-ocean variability in the Bay of Bengal.


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