EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Frontal variability and its impact on chlorophyll in the Arabian Sea

Yuntao Wang, Wentao Ma, Feng Zhou, and Chai Fei
Yuntao Wang et al.
  • Second Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources, Hangzhou, China (

Sixteen years satellite observations are used to investigate the frontogenesis, frontal variability and its impact on chlorophyll in the Arabian Sea. Large frontal probability (FP) and high chlorophyll mainly happens near the coast, e.g., near Somalia and Oman, and its value generally decreases with offshore distance. An Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) is used to disentangle the spatial and temporal variability of front and chlorophyll. Prominent seasonal cycle of frontal activities is identified, peaking in summer when southwest wind prevails. The seasonality for chlorophyll is same with wind and front near Somalia, which largely impacted by monsoon. During summer, the southwest monsoon drives offshore Ekman transport and induces coastal upwelling. It transports subsurface cold water and nutrients to the surface layer, which generates fronts and enhances chlorophyll, respectively. The frontal activities can be used as an indicator to determine the chlorophyll level that high chlorophyll happens when frontal probability gets higher than 2%. At anomalous field, stronger wind can induce higher frontal activities and chlorophyll. The impact of wind on frontogenesis can extend 1,000km offshore and a simplified linear regression is applied to quantify their relationship. The variability of wind leads chlorophyll by lags increasing with distance, indicating a horizontal offshore transport of coastal water. In winter, the northeast wind is not upwelling favorable, thus the frontal activities and chlorophyll are greatly reduced off Somalia. During this period, large chlorophyll is found in the north off Oman because of mixing, thus its relationship with front is less pronounced. In the upwelling regions, fronts act as an intermedia process that connecting the wind forcing and responses of ecosystem. The frontal activities in Arabian Sea is fundamentally important to improve our understanding of monsoon related ocean dynamics.

How to cite: Wang, Y., Ma, W., Zhou, F., and Fei, C.: Frontal variability and its impact on chlorophyll in the Arabian Sea, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9188,, 2020