Multidecadal weakening of Indian summer monsoon circulation induces an increasing northern Indian Ocean sea level

North Indian Ocean sea level has shown significant increase during last three to four decades. Analyses of long-term climate data sets and ocean model sensitivity experiments identify a mechanism for multidecadal sea level variability relative to global mean. Our results indicate that North Indian Ocean sea level rise is accompanied by a weakening summer monsoon circulation. Given that Indian Ocean meridional heat transport is primarily regulated by the annual cycle of monsoon winds, weakening of summer monsoon circulation has resulted in reduced upwelling off Arabia and Somalia and decreased southward heat transport, and corresponding increase of heat storage in the North Indian Ocean. These changes in turn lead to increased retention of heat and increased thermosteric sea level rise in the North Indian Ocean, especially in the Arabian Sea. These findings imply that rising North Indian Ocean sea level due to weakening of monsoon circulation demands adaptive strategies to enable a resilient South Asian population.

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