Author(s): Subrahmanayam B, Murty VSN, Sharp RJ, OBrien JJ
In the years 1999 and 2001, three intense tropical cyclones formed over the northern Indian Ocean—two over the Bay of Bengal during 15–19 and 25–29 October, 1999 and one over the Arabian Sea during 21–28 May, 2001. We examined the thermal, salinity and circulation responses at the sea surface due to these severe cyclones in order to understand the air-sea coupling using data from satellite measurements and model simulations. It is found that the Sea Surface Temperature (SST) cooled by about 0.5 °–0.8 °C in the Bay of Bengal and 2 °C in the Arabian Sea. In the Bay of Bengal, this cooling took place beneath the cyclone center whereas in the Arabian Sea, the cooling occurred behind the cyclone only a few days later. This contrasting oceanic response resulted mainly from the salinity stratification in the Bay of Bengal and thermal stratification in the Arabian Sea and the associated mixing processes. In particular, the cyclones moved over the region of low salinity and smaller mixed layer depth with a distinct mixed layer deepening to the left side of the cyclone track. It is envisaged that daily satellite estimates of SST and Sea Surface Salinity (SSS) using Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) and model simulated mixed layer depth would be useful for the study of tropical cyclones and prediction of their path over the northern Indian Ocean.