Sea surface salinity variability during the Indian Ocean Dipole and ENSO events in the tropical Indian Ocean Academic Article uri icon


  • An ocean reanalysis that covers the period from 1871 to 2008 is used to analyze the interannual variability of sea surface salinity (SSS) in the tropical Indian Ocean. The reanalysis SSS and the SSS anomaly patterns during Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and El Nio-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events are compared with patterns from Argo SSS data. The mean seasonal SSS variation is large in the northern Bay of Bengal compared with variations in the Arabian Sea and equatorial Indian Ocean. During a positive IOD event, positive SSS anomalies are found along the Sumatra coast that are due to the combination of wind-driven upwelling of subsurface high-salinity waters, enhanced evaporation, and anomalous surface circulation. The opposite is true, to a lesser extent, during negative IOD events. A dipole mode index for salinity (DMIS) based on SSS data and a new index based on the average of salinity in a region off the coast of Sumatra are introduced to monitor SSS variability during IOD and ENSO events. The impact of concomitant El Nio events on a positive IOD event is large with freshening (a negative SSS anomaly) in the equatorial Indian Ocean and salting (positive SSS anomaly) off the southern Sumatra coast. The (impact of) intense freshening reaches into the southwestern tropical Indian Ocean. The impact of concomitant La Nia with negative IOD is also large with an intense freshening in the southeastern Arabian Sea and salting off the northern Sumatra coast. Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Grunseich, G., Subrahmanyam, B., Murty, V., & Giese, B. S.

citation count

  • 60

complete list of authors

  • Grunseich, Gary||Subrahmanyam, Bulusu||Murty, VSN||Giese, Benjamin S

publication date

  • November 2011