Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans

A semiannual Indian Ocean forced Kelvin wave observed in the Indonesian seas in May 1997


  • Janet Sprintall,

  • Arnold L. Gordon,

  • Ragu Murtugudde,

  • R. Dwi Susanto


Recent observations within the Indonesian exit passages and internal seas highly resolve the arrival and passage of a semiannual Kelvin wave. In mid-May 1997, surface and subsurface currents were to the southeast at a mooring located south of Java in the South Java Current, while local wind forcing was northwestward. Subsequent northward fluctuations in the geostrophic current through Lombok Strait and in observed currents from two moorings located in Makassar Strait are commensurate with the speed and passage of a Kelvin wave through the region. The Kelvin wave was due to westerly wind forcing in the remote equatorial Indian Ocean during the semiannual April/May monsoon transition period. This was confirmed through a simple remote wind-forced analytical Kelvin wave model of velocity at the South Java Current mooring location and sea level in Lombok Strait and also in the numerical general circulation model of Murtugudde et al. [1998]. Warm temperature anomalies measured at the south Java mooring and within Makassar Strait are associated with the passage of the Kelvin wave. Salinity anomalies measured at the south Java mooring are consistent with an Indian Ocean source. The observed passage of the Kelvin wave during May 1997 unambiguously demonstrates for the first time that equatorial Indian Ocean remote wind forcing may on occasions influence the internal Indonesian seas