Seasonal variability of the Arabian Sea intermediate circulation and its impact on seasonal changes of the upper oxygen minimum zone

Schmidt, Henrike; Czeschel, Rena; Visbeck, Martin

Oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) in the open ocean occur below the surface in regions of weak ventilation and high biological productivity with associated sinking organic matter. Very low levels of dissolved oxygen alter biogeochemical cycles and significantly affect marine life. One of the most intense though poorly understood OMZs in the world ocean is located in the Arabian Sea between 300 and 1000 m of depth. An improved understanding of the physical processes that have an impact on the OMZ in the Arabian Sea is expected to increase the reliability of assessments of its future development.

This study uses reanalysis velocity fields from the ocean model HYCOM (Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model), which are verified with observational data, to investigate advective pathways of Lagrangian particles into the Arabian Sea OMZ at intermediate depths between 200 and 800 m.

In the eastern basin, the vertical expansion of the OMZ is strongest during the winter monsoon, revealing a core thickness 1000 m deep and oxygen values below 5 inline-formulaµmol inline-formulakg−1. The minimum oxygen concentration might be favoured by a maximum water mass advection that follows the main advective pathway of Lagrangian particles along the perimeter of the basin into the eastern basin of the Arabian Sea during the winter monsoon. These water masses pass regions of high primary production and respiration, contributing to the transport of low-oxygenated water into the eastern part of the OMZ.

The maximum oxygen concentration in the western basin of the Arabian Sea in May coincides with a maximum southward water mass advection in the western basin during the spring intermonsoon, supplying the western core of the OMZ with high-oxygenated water.

The maximum oxygen concentration in the eastern basin of the Arabian Sea in May might be associated with the northward inflow of water across 10inline-formula N into the Arabian Sea, which is highest during the spring intermonsoon.

The Red Sea outflow of advective particles into the western and eastern basin starts during the summer monsoon associated with the northeastward current during the summer monsoon. On the other hand, waters from the Persian Gulf are advected with little variation on seasonal timescales.

As the weak seasonal cycle of oxygen concentration in the eastern and western basin can be explained by seasonally changing advection of water masses at intermediate depths into the Arabian Sea OMZ (ASOMZ), the simplified backward-trajectory approach seems to be a good method for prediction of the seasonality of advective pathways of Lagrangian particles into the ASOMZ.

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Zitierform:

Schmidt, Henrike / Czeschel, Rena / Visbeck, Martin: Seasonal variability of the Arabian Sea intermediate circulation and its impact on seasonal changes of the upper oxygen minimum zone. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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