A study of the circulation and salinity budget of the Arabian Sea with an isopycnic coordinate ocean model

Oleg E. Esenkov, Donald B. Olson, Rainer Bleck

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7 Scopus citations


The evolution of surface circulation and salinity budget are studied with the open-boundary version of the Miami Isopycnic Coordinate Ocean Model (MICOM) that uses a global MICOM simulation as a boundary condition. Under climatological wind and thermodynamic forcing, the model develops solutions that are in good agreement with the climatologically forced global MICOM results and with observations. When the observed winds force the model, interannual variability of the surface fields increases significantly. However, coalescence of the two large eddies off Somalia in the end of the summer monsoon suggested in earlier observations does not occur in the model. To identify what processes facilitate or restrict the merger, a series of experiments was performed with modified model parameters and forcing fields. The eddies coalesced when half-slip, rather than no-slip, boundary conditions were used. In this case, less positive vorticity was produced at the coast, resulting in reduced blocking effect on the propagation of the southern eddy. The Socotra Island, which is submerged in the standard model, hinders a northward movement of the Great Whirl, leading to a stronger interaction between the eddies, which results in their subsequent merging. A more realistic coalescence occurs in an experiment where winds are held constant after reaching the peak summer value. Freshwater fluxes from the east and south are important for the salinity budget in the Arabian Sea, where evaporation exceeds precipitation. The only significant cross-equatorial transport of low-salinity water occurs in the upper 400m in the model. Most of this water is advected below the surface mixed layer at the western boundary. The strongest interaction between the mixed layer and the oceanic interior occurs during the summer in the coastal upwelling regions off Somalia. Almost half of all upwelled water comes from depths between 100 and 200m, thus signifying the importance of mid-depth circulation and water mass distribution for the surface processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2091-2110
Number of pages20
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Issue number12-13
StatePublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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