An oceanic teleconnection between the equatorial and southern Indian Ocean

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Abstract

[1] Sequences of Kelvin and Rossby waves are found to rapidly carry sea surface height anomalies across the Indian Ocean, and have an impact on Indian to Atlantic interocean exchange. Satellite altimeter data reveal an oceanic teleconnection between equatorial winds and variability of the interocean exchange. Four times per year, we observe an equatorial Kelvin wave to hit Indonesia, forced by monsoon variability. The signal then propagates southward along the Indonesian coast and triggers Rossby waves that propagate westward across the subtropical Indian Ocean. On reaching the Madagascar and Mozambique Channel regions, large rings form at the same four per year frequency. These drift towards the Agulhas retroflection where they control the shedding of Agulhas rings. Disturbances of this pin-ball-like propagating signal can be traced from Indian Ocean Dipole/El Niño events in 1994 and 1997/1998, to decreases of Indian-Atlantic ocean exchange by Agulhas rings over two years later.

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