The effect of seasonally and spatially varying chlorophyll on Bay of Bengal surface ocean properties and the South Asian monsoon

Jack Giddings (Lead Author), Adrian Matthews, Nicholas Klingaman, Karen Heywood, Manoj Joshi, Ben Webber

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3 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Chlorophyll absorbs solar radiation in the upper ocean, increasing the mixed layer radiative heating and sea surface temperatures (SST). Although the influence of chlorophyll distributions in the Arabian Sea on the southwest monsoon has been demonstrated, there is a current knowledge gap regarding how chlorophyll distributions in the Bay of Bengal influence the southwest monsoon. The solar absorption caused by chlorophyll can be parameterized as an optical parameter, h2, which expresses the scale depth of the absorption of blue light. Seasonally and spatially varying h2 fields in the Bay of Bengal were imposed in a 30-year simulation using an atmospheric general circulation model coupled to a mixed layer thermodynamic ocean model in order to investigate the effect of chlorophyll distributions on regional SST, the southwest monsoon circulation, and precipitation. There are both direct local upper-ocean effects, through changes in solar radiation absorption, and indirect remote atmospheric responses. The depth of the mixed layer relative to the perturbed solar penetration depths modulates the response of the SST to chlorophyll. The largest SST response of 0.5 ∘C to chlorophyll forcing occurs in coastal regions, where chlorophyll concentrations are high (> 1 mg m−3), and when climatological mixed layer depths shoal during the inter-monsoon periods. Precipitation increases significantly (by up to 3 mm d−1) across coastal Myanmar during the southwest monsoon onset and over northeast India and Bangladesh during the Autumn inter-monsoon period, decreasing model biases.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)635–655
Number of pages21
JournalWeather and Climate Dynamics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2020


  • Bay of Bengal (BOB)
  • Indian Ocean
  • Chlorophyll-a
  • Radiant Heating Rate
  • South Asian summer monsoon
  • Solar Penetration Depth

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