Spatial and temporal variability of solar penetration depths in the Bay of Bengal and its impact on sea surface temperature (SST) during the summer monsoon

Jack Giddings, Karen J. Heywood (Lead Author), Adrian J. Matthews, Manoj M. Joshi, Benjamin G. M. Webber, Alejandra Sanchez-Franks, Brian A. King, Puthenveettil N. Vinayachandran

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Chlorophyll has long been known to influence air-sea gas exchange and CO2 drawdown. But chlorophyll also influences regional climate through its effect on solar radiation absorption and thus sea surface temperature (SST). In the Bay of Bengal, the effect of chlorophyll on SST has been demonstrated to have a significant impact on the Indian summer (southwest) monsoon. However, little is known about the drivers and impacts of chlorophyll variability in the Bay of Bengal during the southwest monsoon. Here we use observations of downwelling irradiance measured by an ocean glider and three profiling floats to determine the spatial and temporal variability of solar absorption across the southern Bay of Bengal during the 2016 summer monsoon. A two-band exponential solar absorption scheme is fitted to vertical profiles of photosynthetically active radiation to determine the effective scale depth of blue light. Scale depths of blue light are found to vary from 12m during the highest (0.3-0.5mgm-3) mixed-layer chlorophyll concentrations to over 25m when the mixed-layer chlorophyll concentrations are below 0.1mgm-3. The Southwest Monsoon Current and coastal regions of the Bay of Bengal are observed to have higher mixed-layer chlorophyll concentrations and shallower solar penetration depths than other regions of the southern Bay of Bengal. Substantial sub-daily variability in solar radiation absorption is observed, which highlights the importance of near-surface ocean processes in modulating mixed-layer chlorophyll. Simulations using a one-dimensional K-profile parameterization ocean mixed-layer model with observed surface forcing from July 2016 show that a 0.3mgm-3 increase in chlorophyll concentration increases sea surface temperature by 0.35° C in 1 month, with SST differences growing rapidly during calm and sunny conditions. This has the potential to influence monsoon rainfall around the Bay of Bengal and its intraseasonal variability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-890
Number of pages20
JournalOcean Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2021

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