Cirene: Air—Sea Interactions in the Seychelles—Chagos Thermocline Ridge Region Academic Article uri icon


  • The Vasco—Cirene program ex-plores how strong air—sea inter-actions promoted by the shallow thermocline and high sea surface temperature in the Seychelles—Chagos thermocline ridge results in marked variability at synoptic, intraseasonal, and interannual time scales. The Cirene oceano-graphic cruise collected oceanic, atmospheric, and air—sea flux observations in this region in Jan-uary—February 2007. The contem-poraneous Vasco field experiment complemented these measure-ments with balloon deployments from the Seychelles. Cirene also contributed to the development of the Indian Ocean observing system via deployment of a moor-ing and 12 Argo profilers. Unusual conditions prevailed in the Indian Ocean during Janu-ary and February 2007, following the Indian Ocean dipole climate anomaly of late 2006. Cirene measurements show that the Seychelles—Chagos thermocline ridge had higher-than-usual heat content with subsurface anomalies up to 7°C. The ocean surface was warmer and fresher than average, and unusual eastward currents prevailed down to 800 m. These anomalous conditions had a major impact on tuna fishing in early 2007. Our dataset also sampled the genesis and maturation of Tropical Cyclone Dora, including high surface temperatures and a strong diurnal cycle before the cyclone, followed by a 1.5°C cool-ing over 10 days. Balloonborne instruments sampled the surface and boundary layer dynamics of Dora. We observed small-scale structures like dry-air layers in the atmosphere and diurnal warm layers in the near-surface ocean. The Cirene data will quantify the impact of these finescale features on the upper-ocean heat budget and atmospheric deep convection.

publication date

  • January 2009