Surface layer temperature inversion in the Bay of Bengal
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Surface layer temperature inversion occurring in the Bay of Bengal has been addressed. Hydrographic data archived in the Indian Oceanographic Data Center are used to understand various aspects of the temperature inversion of surface layer in the Bay of Bengal, such as occurrence time, characteristics, stability, inter-annual variability and generating mechanisms. Spatially organized temperature inversion occurs in the coastal waters of the western and northeastern Bay during winter (November-February). Although the inversion in the northeastern Bay is sustained until February (with remnants seen even in March), in the western Bay it becomes less organized in January and almost disappears by February. Inversion is confined to the fresh water induced seasonal halocline of the surface layer. Inversions of large temperature difference (of the order of 1.6-2.4 degrees C) and thin layer thickness (10-20 m) are located adjacent to major fresh water inputs from the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy, Krishna and Godavari rivers. The inversion is stable with a mean stability of 3600x10 sup(-8) m sup(-1). Inter-annual variability of the inversion is significantly high and it is caused by the inter-annual variability of fresh water flux and surface cooling in the northern Bay. Fresh water flux leads the occurrence process in association with surface heat flux and advection. The leading role of fresh water flux is understood from the observation that the two occurrence regions of inversion (the western and northeastern Bay) have proximity to the two low salinity (with values about 28-29 ppt) zones. In the western Bay, the East India Coastal Current brings less saline and cold water from the head of the Bay to the south-west Bay, where it advects over warm, saline water, promoting temperature inversion in this region in association with the surface heat loss. For inversion occurring in the northeastern Bay (where the surface water gains heat from atmosphere), surface advection of the less saline cold water from the head of the Bay and Irrawaddy basin is found to be the major causative factor.
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