Paleowave

iMonsoon Climatology

Monthly climatology of precipitation and sea-surface salinity over the Indian Ocean sector.

Monthly climatology of precipitation and sea-surface salinity over the Indian Ocean sector.

Here is a gif (click here for full version) of rainfall over the Indian subcontinent and concurrent sea-surface salinity (SSS) in the Indian Ocean with the targeted sites for Expedition 353 (red circles). The precipitation data are in mm of rainfall per day and the SSS data are displayed in practical salinity units. Each frame displays average monthly data for 55 years from 1958-2013 (i.e. averaging all January data, all February data etc.) There are many things of interest that pop out for me in this animation. Some points of note:

  • The peak of monsoon rain over India is during the months of June, July, and August, or during Northern Hemisphere (boreal) summer.
  • There is a well formed band of rainfall over the southern Indian Ocean during boreal winter.
  • A freshwater pulse (< 30 PSU) close to the eastern coast of India can be observed a month or two after the JJA monsoon peak.
  • During the monsoon, the Bay of Bengal (along with the subcontinent) experiences abundant rainfall.
  • The Arabian Sea is much saltier than the Bay of Bengal.
  • All of the targeted expedition sites display heterogeneity in their seasonality.
  • Many Indian Ocean islands fall prey to poor coastal resolution data (oops!)

What pops out for you? Drop a line in the comments if you'd like details about the methodology.

Paleo-CO2

Watch this video! It is an amazing display of atmospheric carbon dioxide trends. My favourite portion kicks in after 1:40mins - so, make sure to watch it till the end:

Carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere is a crucial parameter that plays a major role in mediating the surface temperature of the Earth through radiative forcing. Its inherent molecular makeup traps the outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) that the Earth emits. This balance of incoming solar radiation (the radiative budget, in heat transfer terminology) is vital for the climate system of the Earth which encompasses the atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere etc.

In 1958, Charles Keeling, from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, started collecting and monitoring carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. Shown in the figure above, this dataset represents the longest continuous record of atmospheric CO2 measurements - a mere 54 years. How do we know what CO2 was doing in the past when the Earth system was very different than it is now (eg. the ice ages, prolonged warm periods)? For this, we turn towards proxies.

Here is a list of some proxies (to the best of my knowledge) that are useful in reconstructing atmospheric carbon dioxide content, with links to a few articles that deal with them (most are pdfs, though some links are paywalled - I will be happy to send particular papers if requested):

  • Bulk inorganic/organic carbon content in marine sediments [ref 1, 2]
  • Air bubbles trapped in ice cores [refs 1, 2]
  • Paleosols - ancient soils buried under sedimentary deposits [refs 1, 2]
  • Boron isotopes in planktic foraminifera, a proxy for paleo-pH levels in the ocean [refs 1, 2, 3]
  • Alkenone & lipid biomarkers derived from haptophyte algae [refs 1, 2]
  • Fossil plants and leaves [refs 1, 2]

This is an incomplete list, but covers most of the widely used proxies for paleo-CO2 reconstructions (please post more examples in the comments if you know 'em). Each record obtained from a different proxy varies in terms of resolution of the estimates (decadal, centennial, millenial etc.) and length of the record (how far can they go back?). Together though, they paint a cohesive picture - as can be seen in the second half of the video above.