African Journal of Marine Science

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Annual cycle of the upper-ocean circulation and properties in the tropical western Indian Ocean

M Manyilizu, P Penven, C.J.C. Reason


A regional ocean model was used to simulate the annual cycle of the upper-ocean dynamics and its influence on ocean properties in the tropical western Indian Ocean. Surface winds and heat fluxes from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis forced the model (Model_NCEP) with initial and lateral boundary conditions derived from the Simple Ocean Data Assimilation (SODA). The model findings were in good agreement with previous research, satellite and observational data as well as another model configuration forced by Comprehensive Ocean and Atmosphere Data Sets (COADS). The initial and lateral boundary conditions for Model_COADS were extracted from World Ocean Atlas 2001. Anticyclonic wind stress curl occurred to the north of Madagascar, and extended towards the Tanzanian coast throughout the year, leading to Ekman convergence and downwelling in that region. The lowest sea-surface height values during the year occurred between 5° and 12° S with an elongated and contracted shape. The East African Coastal Current (EACC) was in phase with the westward North-East Madagascar Current (NEMC) throughout the year with volume transports peaking in June through July in the model forced by NCEP reanalysis. The variability of the volume transport, ocean currents, temperature and salinity to the north of Madagascar on the path of the NEMC mirrored those in the middle Tanzanian shelf on the path of the EACC throughout the year. The NEMC seemed to influence the water masses on the Tanzanian shelf, with cooler and lower-salinity water in the South-West Monsoon, and warmer and saltier water during the North-East Monsoon.

Keywords: annual cycle, East African Coastal Current, North-East Madagascar Current, North-East Monsoon, ocean dynamics, South-West Monsoon, Tanzanian shelf
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