Decadal changes in the South Indian Ocean thermocline

McDonagh, Elaine L.; Bryden, Harry L.; King, Brian A.; Sanders, Richard J. ORCID:; Cunningham, Stuart A.; Marsh, Robert. 2005 Decadal changes in the South Indian Ocean thermocline. Journal of Climate, 18 (10). 1575-1590.

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A significant change in properties of the thermocline is observed across the whole Indian Ocean 32°S section between 1987 and 2002. This change represents a reversal of the pre-1987 freshening and decreasing oxygen concentrations of the upper thermocline that had been interpreted as a fingerprint of anthropogenic climate change. The thermocline at the western end of the section (40°–70°E) is occupied by a single variety of mode water with a potential temperature of around 13°C. The thermocline at the eastern end of the 32°S section is occupied by mode waters with a range of properties cooling from 11°C at 80°E to 9°C near the Australian coast. The change in θ–S properties between 1987 and 2002 is zonally coherent east of 80°E, with a maximum change on isopycnals at 11.6°C. Ages derived from helium–tritium data imply that the mode waters at all longitudes take about the same time to reach 32°S from their respective ventilation sites. Dissolved oxygen concentration changes imply that all of the mode water reached the section 20% faster in 2002 than in 1987.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0894-8755
Date made live: 08 Aug 2005 +0 (UTC)

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