Unique ocean circulation pathways reshape the Indian Ocean oxygen minimum zone with warming

Sam Ditkovsky, Laure Resplandy, Julius Busecke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The global ocean is losing oxygen with warming. Observations and Earth system model projections, however, suggest that this global ocean deoxygenation does not equate to a simple and systematic expansion of tropical oxygen minimum zones (OMZs). Previous studies have focused on the Pacific Ocean; they showed that the outer OMZ deoxygenates and expands as oxygen supply by advective transport weakens, the OMZ core oxygenates and contracts due to a shift in the composition of the source waters supplied by slow mixing, and in between these two regimes oxygen is redistributed with little effect on OMZ volume. Here, we examine the OMZ response to warming in the Indian Ocean using an ensemble of Earth system model high-emissions scenario experiments from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6. We find a similar expansion-redistribution-contraction response but show that the unique ocean circulation pathways of the Indian Ocean lead to far more prominent OMZ contraction and redistribution regimes than in the Pacific Ocean. As a result, only the outermost volumes (oxygen>180ĝ€¯μmolkg-1) expand. The Indian Ocean experiences a broad oxygenation in the southwest driven by a reduction in waters supplied by the Indonesian Throughflow in favor of high-oxygen waters supplied from the southern Indian Ocean gyre. Models also project a strong localized deoxygenation in the northern Arabian Sea due to the rapid warming and shoaling of marginal sea outflows (Red Sea and Persian Gulf) and increases in local stratification with warming. We extend the existing conceptual framework used to explain the Pacific OMZ response to interpret the response in the Indian Ocean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4711-4736
Number of pages26
Issue number23
StatePublished - Nov 29 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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