Observation and origin of an interannual salinity anomaly in the Mozambique Channel



[1] A positive salinity anomaly of 0.2 PSU was observed between 50 and 200 m over the years 2000–2001 across the Mozambique Channel at a section at 17°S which was repeated in 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2008. Meanwhile, a moored array is continued from 2003 to 2008. This anomaly was most distinct showing an interannual but nonseasonal variation. The possible origin of the anomaly is investigated using output from three ocean general circulation models (Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, Ocean Circulation and Climate Advanced Modeling, and Parallel Ocean Program). The most probable mechanism for the salinity anomaly is the anomalous inflow of subtropical waters caused by a weakening of the northern part of the South Equatorial Current by weaker trade winds. This mechanism was found in all three numerical models. In addition, the numerical models indicate a possible salinization of one of the source water masses to the Mozambique Channel as an additional cause of the anomaly. The anomaly propagated southward into the Agulhas Current and northward along the African coast.