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Previously unidentified Indonesian Throughflow pathways and freshening in the Indian Ocean during recent decades

TitlePreviously unidentified Indonesian Throughflow pathways and freshening in the Indian Ocean during recent decades
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsMakarim S., Sprintall J, Liu Z, Yu W., Santoso A., Yan X.H, Susanto R.D
Date Published2019/05
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number2045-2322
Accession NumberWOS:000467839800035
Keywordscirculation; countercurrent; dipole; equatorial; interannual variability; layer; pacific; Science & Technology - Other Topics; south china sea; transport; water

The Earth has experienced a global surface warming slowdown (GSWS) or so-called "global warming hiatus" since the end of the 20th century. The GSWS was marked by a La Nina-like decadal cooling in the Pacific Ocean that subsequently generated an increase in the transfer of Pacific waters into the Indian Ocean via the Indonesian Throughflow (ITF). How the Pacific water spreads through the interior of the Indian Ocean and the impact of these decadal ITF transport changes on the Indian Ocean water mass transformation and circulation remain largely unknown. Here, we analyze the thermohaline structures and current systems at different depths in the Indian Ocean prior to and during the GSWS period. Our study shows that the GSWS involved extensive changes to the Indo-Pacific ocean teleconnection system, characterized by subsurface warming and freshening in the Indian Ocean. A hitherto unknown Indian Ocean pathway of the ITF was discovered off Sumatra associated with prolonged northwestward flow within the South Java Current. Our analysis uncovers a direct linkage of enhanced ITF waters with the Agulhas Current in the Mozambique Channel from thermocline depths down to intermediate depths, that freshened the Indian Ocean. These changes in the Indian Ocean circulation and water mass characteristics impact climate variability through changing the sea surface temperature (SST) and precipitation patterns that can subsequently affect regional economies.

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