Indonesian Throughflow Partitioning Between Leeuwin and South Equatorial Currents

Gruenburg, Laura Kristen; Gordon, Arnold L.; Thurnherr, Andreas M.

Indonesian Throughflow (ITF) waters move along multiple pathways within the Indian Ocean. The western route is within the thermocline of the South Equatorial Current (SEC), and the southern route is via injection into the Leeuwin Current (LC) along western Australia. We use gridded Argo data to examine heat content anomaly (HCa) within three boxes in the eastern Indian Ocean, one adjacent to the ITF outflow from the Indonesian Seas (ITF box), the second in the eastern portion of the SEC (SEC box), and the third in the LC (LC box). Although interannual HCa variability in the SEC and ITF boxes is well correlated, a large increase in HCa within the ITF box does not appear in the SEC box in 2011 but is evident in the LC box. The 2011 change in the SEC–LC partitioning is investigated using GODAS reanalysis by examining the strength of the SEC and LC during a 2009 HCa increase within the ITF box and the subsequent increase in 2011. During 2009, a strong SEC and weakened LC spread the increased ITF HCa into the central Indian Ocean, whereas a weak SEC and strengthened LC during 2011 transmit the HCa signal to the south. Near-surface winds and mean sea level pressure from NCEP–NCAR reanalysis reveal that Ningaloo Niño events led to shifts in ocean circulation during 2000 and 2011. LC and SEC exports show a high negative correlation at interannual time scales, indicating that a reduction of outflow from one pathway is partially compensated by an increase from the other.

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Journal of Physical Oceanography

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