Intraseasonal variability of air-sea fluxes over the Bay of Bengal during the Southwest Monsoon

Alejandra Sanchez-Franks, Elizabeth C. Kent, Adrian J. Matthews, Benjamin G. M. Webber, Simon C. Peatman, P. N. Vinayachandran

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In the Bay of Bengal (BoB), surface heat fluxes play a key role in monsoon dynamics and prediction. The accurate representation of large-scale surface fluxes is dependent on the quality of gridded reanalysis products. Meteorological and surface flux variables from five reanalysis products are compared and evaluated against in situ data from the RAMA moored array in the BoB. The reanalysis products: ERA-Interim (ERA-I), TropFlux, MERRA-2, JRA-55 and CFSR are assessed for their characterisation of air-sea fluxes during the southwest monsoon season (JJAS). ERA-I captured radiative fluxes best while TropFlux captured turbulent and net heat fluxes (Qnet) best, and both products outperformed JRA-55, MERRA-2 and CFSR, showing highest correlations and smallest biases when compared to the in situ data. In all five products, the largest errors were in shortwave radiation (QSW) and latent heat flux (QLH), with nonnegligible biases up to ~75 W m-2. The QSW and QLH are the largest drivers of the observed Qnet variability, thus highlighting the importance of the results from the buoy comparison. There are also spatially coherent differences in the mean basin-wide fields of surface flux variables from the reanalysis products, indicating that the biases at the buoy position are not localized. Biases of this magnitude have severe implications on reanalysis products ability to capture the variability of monsoon processes. Hence, the representation of intraseasonal variability was investigated through the boreal summer intraseasonal oscillation and we found that TropFlux and ERA-I perform best at capturing intraseasonal climate variability during the southwest monsoon season.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7087–7109
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Climate
Early online date5 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018

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