Seasonality and interannual variability of particle fluxes to the deep Arabian sea Academic Article uri icon


  • Long-term sediment trap studies have been carried out since 1986 at three locations in the western, central and eastern Arabian Sea. Here we present total and bulk component fluxes measured for 3 years at the central station and for 4 years at the western and eastern stations. Particulate fluxes to the deep sea are controlled by the monsoons with generally higher fluxes during the SW and NE monsoons and lower fluxes during the intermonsoon periods. The increase of particle fluxes occurs simultaneously with a drop in surface water temperature, induced by wind- or convective-mixing and an associated entrainment of nutrients into the euphotic zone. More than 50% of the annual particle fluxes to the deep sea occurs during the SW monsoon at the western location due to the prolonged influence of the monsoonal upwelling as indicated by increased biogenic carbonate and opal fluxes. However, the opal fluxes peak a month later than the carbonate fluxes. The delayed onset of opal flux peak appears to be controlled by the observed pre-monsoon silica distribution in the Arabian Sea, where the subsurface waters are silica depleted down to the thermocline at 150 m. At the central location particle fluxes are of similar magnitude during the SW and NE monsoons. The interannual variability of particle fluxes at the eastern location is determined by the NE monsoon. At the western and central locations, on the other hand, maximum interannual variability of fluxes occurs during the SW monsoon and particle fluxes were higher during years of stronger SW monsoon. The results further suggest that, apart from monsoon strength, geographic shifts of the area of maximum wind-stress may produce significant variabilities in particle fluxes to the deep ocean at the western Arabian Sea site.

publication date

  • July 1993