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

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Volume 29, No. 2
Pages 180 - 191

Decay Mechanisms of Near-Inertial Mixed Layer Oscillations in the Bay of Bengal

T.M. Shaun Johnston Dipanjan Chaudhuri Manikandan MathurDaniel L. RudnickDebasis SenguptaHarper L. SimmonsAmit TandonR. Venkatesan
Article Abstract

Winds generate inertial and near-inertial currents in the upper ocean. These currents dominate the kinetic energy and contain most of the vertical shear in horizontal currents. Subsequent shear instabilities lead to mixing. In the Bay of Bengal, the annual mean wind energy input and near-inertial mixed layer energy is almost as large as in the mid-latitude storm tracks. Also, mixing associated with these waves is known to affect mixed layer heat content, sea surface temperature, and, thus, precipitation in coupled global models. Therefore, the mechanisms leading to the decay of these currents in the mixed layer and below are of considerable importance. Two such decay mechanisms are examined here. One mechanism is the downward propagation of near-inertial internal waves, which is aided by the mesoscale circulation and is observed with a rapidly profiling float. In a few days (faster than at mid-latitudes), the near-inertial wave group propagated from the base of the mixed layer to 250 m depth in the stratified interior. Another decay mechanism is enhanced shear generation at the mixed layer base from periodic alignment of rotating, near-inertial current shear and winds, which is observed with a mooring and analyzed with a simple two-layer model.

Citation

Johnston, T.M.S., D. Chaudhuri, M. Mathur, D.L. Rudnick, D. Sengupta, H.L. Simmons, A. Tandon, and R. Venkatesan. 2016. Decay mechanisms of near-inertial mixed layer oscillations in the Bay of Bengal. Oceanography 29(2):180–191, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2016.50.

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