Publications

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2018
Ramachandran, S, Tandon A, MacKinnon J, Lucas AJ, Pinkel R, Waterhouse AF, Nash J, Shroyer E, Mahadevan A, Weller RA, Farrar JT.  2018.  Submesoscale processes at shallow salinity fronts in the Bay of Bengal: Observations during the winter monsoon. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 48:479-509.   10.1175/jpo-d-16-0283.1   AbstractWebsite

Lateral submesoscale processes and their influence on vertical stratification at shallow salinity fronts in the central Bay of Bengal during the winter monsoon are explored using high-resolution data from a cruise in November 2013. The observations are from a radiator survey centered at a salinity-controlled density front, embedded in a zone of moderate mesoscale strain (0.15 times the Coriolis parameter) and forced by winds with a downfront orientation. Below a thin mixed layer, often <= 10 m, the analysis shows several dynamical signatures indicative of submesoscale processes: (i) negative Ertel potential vorticity (PV); (ii) low-PV anomalies with O(1-10) km lateral extent, where the vorticity estimated on isopycnals and the isopycnal thickness are tightly coupled, varying in lockstep to yield low PV; (iii) flow conditions susceptible to forced symmetric instability (FSI) or bearing the imprint of earlier FSI events; (iv) negative lateral gradients in the absolute momentum field (inertial instability); and (v) strong contribution from differential sheared advection at O(1) km scales to the growth rate of the depth-averaged stratification. The findings here show one-dimensional vertical processes alone cannot explain the vertical stratification and its lateral variability over O(1-10) km scales at the radiator survey.

2016
Lucas, AJ, Nash JD, Pinkel R, MacKinnon JA, Tandon A, Mahadevan A, Omand MM, Freilich M, Sengupta D, Ravichandran M, Le Boyer A.  2016.  Adrift upon a salinity-stratified sea: A view of upper-ocean processes in the Bay of Bengal during the southwest monsoon. Oceanography. 29:134-145.   10.5670/oceanog.2016.46   AbstractWebsite

The structure and variability of upper-ocean properties in the Bay of Bengal (BoB) modulate air-sea interactions, which profoundly influence the pattern and intensity of monsoonal precipitation across the Indian subcontinent. In turn, the bay receives a massive amount of freshwater through river input at its boundaries and from heavy local rainfall, leading to a salinity-stratified surface ocean and shallow mixed layers. Small-scale oceanographic processes that drive variability in near-surface BoB waters complicate the tight coupling between ocean and atmosphere implicit in this seasonal feedback. Unraveling these ocean dynamics and their impact on air-sea interactions is critical to improving the forecasting of intraseasonal variability in the southwest monsoon. To that end, we deployed a wave-powered, rapidly profiling system capable of measuring the structure and variability of the upper 100 m of the BoB. The evolution of upper-ocean structure along the trajectory of the instrument's roughly two-week drift, along with direct estimates of vertical fluxes of salt and heat, permit assessment of the contributions of various phenomena to temporal and spatial variability in the surface mixed layer depth. Further, these observations suggest that the particular "barrier-layer" stratification found in the BoB may decrease the influence of the wind on mixing processes in the interior, thus isolating the upper ocean from the interior below, and tightening its coupling to the atmosphere above.

Chowdary, JS, Srinivas G, Fousiya TS, Parekh A, Gnanaseelan C, Seo H, MacKinnon JA.  2016.  Representation of Bay of Bengal upper-ocean salinity in general circulation models. Oceanography. 29:38-49.   10.5670/oceanog.2016.37   AbstractWebsite

The Bay of Bengal (BoB) upper-ocean salinity is examined in the National Centers for Environmental Prediction-Climate Forecasting System version 2 (CFSv2) coupled model, Modular Ocean Model version 5 (MOM5), and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services Global Ocean Data Assimilation System (INC-GODAS). CFSv2 displays a large positive salinity bias with respect to World Ocean Atlas 2013 in the upper 40 m of the water column. The prescribed annual mean river discharge and excess evaporation are the main contributors to the positive bias in surface salinity. Overestimation of salinity advection also contributes to the high surface salinity in the model during summer. The surface salinity bias in MOM5 is smaller than in CFSv2 due to prescribed local freshwater flux and seasonally varying river discharge. However, the bias is higher around 70 m in summer and 40 m in fall. This bias is attributed to excessive vertical mixing in the upper ocean. Despite the fact that representation of salinity in INC-GODAS is more realistic due to data assimilation, the vertical mixing scheme still imposes systematic errors. The small-scale processes that control oceanographic turbulence are not adequately resolved in any of these models. Better parameterizations based on dedicated observational programs may help improve freshwater representation in regional and global models.