An Oceanic General Circulation Model (OGCM) investigation of the Red Sea circulation, 1. Exchange between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean

Sarantis S. Sofianos, William E Johns

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58 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The mechanisms involved in the seasonal exchange between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean are studied using an Oceanic General Circulation Model (OGCM), namely the Miami Isopycnic Coordinate Ocean Model (MICOM). The model reproduces the basic characteristics of the seasonal circulation observed in the area of the strait of Bab el Mandeb. There is good agreement between model results and available observations on the strength of the exchange and the characteristics of the water masses involved, as well as the seasonal flow pattern. During winter, this flow consits of a typical inverse estuarine circulation, while during summer, the surface flow reverses, there is an intermediate inflow of relatively cold and fresh water, and the hypersaline outflow at the bottom of the strait is significantly reduced. Additional experiments with different atmospheric forcing (seasonal winds, seasonal thermohaline air-sea fluxes, or combinations) were performed in order to assess the role of the atmospheric forcing fields in the exchange flow at Bab el Mandeb. The results of both the wind- and thermohaline-driven experiments exhibit a strong seasonality at the area of the strait, which is in phase with the observations. However, it is the combination of both the seasonal pattern of the wind stress and the seasonal thermohaline forcing that can reproduce the observed seasonal variability at the strait. The importance of the seasonal cycle of the thermohaline forcing on the exchange flow pattern is also emphasized by these results. In the experiment where the thermohaline forcing is represented by its annual mean, the strength of the exchange is reduced almost by half.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-11
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research C: Oceans
Volume107
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 15 2002

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oceanic general circulation model
Red Sea
straits
Indian Ocean
strait
atmospheric forcing
flow pattern
Flow patterns
flow distribution
Wind stress
cold water
fresh water
ocean models
Water
experiment
Experiments
wind stress
winter
water mass
summer

Keywords

  • Exchange flow
  • Marginal sea
  • Red Sea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

Cite this

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abstract = "The mechanisms involved in the seasonal exchange between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean are studied using an Oceanic General Circulation Model (OGCM), namely the Miami Isopycnic Coordinate Ocean Model (MICOM). The model reproduces the basic characteristics of the seasonal circulation observed in the area of the strait of Bab el Mandeb. There is good agreement between model results and available observations on the strength of the exchange and the characteristics of the water masses involved, as well as the seasonal flow pattern. During winter, this flow consits of a typical inverse estuarine circulation, while during summer, the surface flow reverses, there is an intermediate inflow of relatively cold and fresh water, and the hypersaline outflow at the bottom of the strait is significantly reduced. Additional experiments with different atmospheric forcing (seasonal winds, seasonal thermohaline air-sea fluxes, or combinations) were performed in order to assess the role of the atmospheric forcing fields in the exchange flow at Bab el Mandeb. The results of both the wind- and thermohaline-driven experiments exhibit a strong seasonality at the area of the strait, which is in phase with the observations. However, it is the combination of both the seasonal pattern of the wind stress and the seasonal thermohaline forcing that can reproduce the observed seasonal variability at the strait. The importance of the seasonal cycle of the thermohaline forcing on the exchange flow pattern is also emphasized by these results. In the experiment where the thermohaline forcing is represented by its annual mean, the strength of the exchange is reduced almost by half.",
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N2 - The mechanisms involved in the seasonal exchange between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean are studied using an Oceanic General Circulation Model (OGCM), namely the Miami Isopycnic Coordinate Ocean Model (MICOM). The model reproduces the basic characteristics of the seasonal circulation observed in the area of the strait of Bab el Mandeb. There is good agreement between model results and available observations on the strength of the exchange and the characteristics of the water masses involved, as well as the seasonal flow pattern. During winter, this flow consits of a typical inverse estuarine circulation, while during summer, the surface flow reverses, there is an intermediate inflow of relatively cold and fresh water, and the hypersaline outflow at the bottom of the strait is significantly reduced. Additional experiments with different atmospheric forcing (seasonal winds, seasonal thermohaline air-sea fluxes, or combinations) were performed in order to assess the role of the atmospheric forcing fields in the exchange flow at Bab el Mandeb. The results of both the wind- and thermohaline-driven experiments exhibit a strong seasonality at the area of the strait, which is in phase with the observations. However, it is the combination of both the seasonal pattern of the wind stress and the seasonal thermohaline forcing that can reproduce the observed seasonal variability at the strait. The importance of the seasonal cycle of the thermohaline forcing on the exchange flow pattern is also emphasized by these results. In the experiment where the thermohaline forcing is represented by its annual mean, the strength of the exchange is reduced almost by half.

AB - The mechanisms involved in the seasonal exchange between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean are studied using an Oceanic General Circulation Model (OGCM), namely the Miami Isopycnic Coordinate Ocean Model (MICOM). The model reproduces the basic characteristics of the seasonal circulation observed in the area of the strait of Bab el Mandeb. There is good agreement between model results and available observations on the strength of the exchange and the characteristics of the water masses involved, as well as the seasonal flow pattern. During winter, this flow consits of a typical inverse estuarine circulation, while during summer, the surface flow reverses, there is an intermediate inflow of relatively cold and fresh water, and the hypersaline outflow at the bottom of the strait is significantly reduced. Additional experiments with different atmospheric forcing (seasonal winds, seasonal thermohaline air-sea fluxes, or combinations) were performed in order to assess the role of the atmospheric forcing fields in the exchange flow at Bab el Mandeb. The results of both the wind- and thermohaline-driven experiments exhibit a strong seasonality at the area of the strait, which is in phase with the observations. However, it is the combination of both the seasonal pattern of the wind stress and the seasonal thermohaline forcing that can reproduce the observed seasonal variability at the strait. The importance of the seasonal cycle of the thermohaline forcing on the exchange flow pattern is also emphasized by these results. In the experiment where the thermohaline forcing is represented by its annual mean, the strength of the exchange is reduced almost by half.

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