Differences in heat budgets of the near-surface Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal: Implications for the summer monsoon
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An analysis of the heat budgets of the near-surface Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal shows significant differences between them during the summer monsoon (June-September). In the Arabian Sea the winds associated with the summer monsoon are stronger and favor the transfer of heat to deeper layers owing to overturning and turbulent mixing. In contrast, the weaker winds over the bay force a relatively sluggish oceanic circulation that is unable to overturn, forcing a heat budget balance between the surface fluxes and diffusion and the rate of change of heat in the near-surface layer. The weak winds are also unable to overcome the strong near-surface stratification because of a low-salinity surface layer. This leads to a shallow surface mixed layer that is stable and responds quickly to changes in the atmosphere. An implication is that sea surface temperature (SST) in the bay remains higher than 28 degrees C, thereby supporting large-scale deep convection in the atmosphere during the summer monsoon. The atmos0pheric heating associated with the convection plays a critical role in sustaining the monsoon winds, and the rainfall associated with it, not only over the bay but also over the Indian subcontinent, maintains a low-salinity surface layer. In the Arabian Sea the strong overturning and mixing lead to lower SST and weak convective activity, which in turn, lead to low rainfall and runoff, resulting in weak stratification that can be overcome easily by the strong monsoon winds. Thus, in both basins, there is a cycle with positive feedback, but the cycles work in opposite directions. This lock monsoon convective activity primarily to the bay.
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