TERRAPUB Journal of Oceanography

Journal of Oceanography, Vol. 60 (No. 2), pp. 205-218, 2004


Air-Sea Interaction, Coastal Circulation and Primary Production in the Eastern Arabian Sea: A Review

Alvarinho J. Luis* and Hiroshi Kawamura

Center for Atmospheric and Oceanic Studies, Faculty of Science, Tohoku University, Sendai 980-8578, Japan

(Received 14 November 2002; in revised form 21 April 2003; accepted 19 May 2003)

Abstract: Air-sea interaction, coastal circulation and primary production exhibit an annual cycle in the eastern Arabian Sea (AS). During June to September, strong southwesterly winds (4~9 m s-1) promote sea surface cooling through surface heat loss and vertical mixing in the central AS and force the West India Coastal Current equatorward. Positive wind stress curl induced by the Findlater jet facilitates Ekman pumping in the northern AS, and equatorward-directed alongshore wind stress induces upwelling which lowers sea surface temperature by about 2.5°C (compared to the offshore value) along the southwestern shelf of India and enhances phytoplankton concentration by more than 70% as compared to that in the central AS. During winter monsoon, from November to March, dry and weak northeasterly winds (2-6 m s-1) from the Indo-China continent enhance convective cooling of the upper ocean and deepen the mixed layer by more than 80 m, thereby increasing the vertical flux of nutrients in the photic layer which promotes wintertime phytoplankton blooms in the northern AS. The primary production rate integrated for photic layer and surface chlorophyll-a estimated from the Coastal Zone Color Scanner, both averaged for the entire western India shelf, increases from winter to summer monsoon from 24 to 70 g C m-2month and from 9 to 24 mg m-2, respectively. Remotely-forced coastal Kelvin waves from the Bay of Bengal propagate into the coastal AS, which modulate circulation pattern along the western India shelf; these Kelvin waves in turn radiate Rossby waves which reverse the circulation in the Lakshadweep Sea semiannually. This review leads us to the conclusion that seasonal monsoon forcing and remotely forced waves modulate the circulation and primary production in the eastern AS.

*Corresponding author E-mail: alvluis@yahoo.com

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