Using the Helmholtz Decomposition to Define the Indian Ocean Meridional Overturning Streamfunction uri icon


  • AbstractThe zonally integrated flow in a basin can be separated into the divergent/nondivergent parts, and a uniquely defined meridional overturning circulation (MOC) can be calculated. For a basin with significant volume exchange at zonal open boundaries, this method is competent in removing the components associated with the nonzero source terms due to zonal transports at open boundaries. This method was applied to the zonally integrated flow in the Indian Ocean basin extended all the way to the Antarctic by virtue of the ECCO dataset. The contributions due to two major zonal flow systems at open boundaries, the Indonesian Throughflow (ITF) and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), were well separated from the rotational flow component, and a nondivergent overturning circulation pattern was identified. Comparisons with previous studies on the MOC of the Indian Ocean in different seasons showed overall consistency but with refinements in details to the south of the entry of the ITF, reflecting the influence of ITF on the MOC pattern in the domain. Other options of decomposition are also examined.

publication date

  • March 2020