Seasonal circulation in the south Indian Ocean



Two World Ocean Circulation Experiment hydrographic cruises in March and June 1995, along with Topex-Poseidon altimeter data and National Meteorological Center wind data are used to estimate seasonal changes in the South Indian Ocean subtropical gyre. Mean annual curves derived from the altimeter and wind data reveal strengthening of the anticyclonic gyre in March and September, and weakening in June and December. The seasonal changes correspond to variations in the wind field south of 30°S at the equinoxes and solstices. In addition, the wind-driven gyre is further north in July, and further south in March. These variations in strength and location of the South Indian Ocean gyre may influence inter-ocean transports south of Africa. Despite the inferred mean annual seasonal variations in the South Indian Ocean gyre, volume transports estimated in 1995 from the hydrographic data are close to mean values. Apparently, a mesoscale eddy in March disrupts the stronger fall gyre, whereas in June the weaker winter gyre is delayed by 1 month.