Strong Intensification of the Arabian Sea Oxygen Minimum Zone in Response to Arabian Gulf Warming

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The highly saline, oxygen-saturated waters of the Arabian Gulf (hereafter the Gulf) sink to intermediate depths (200–300 m) when they enter the Arabian Sea, ventilating the World's thickest oxygen minimum zone (OMZ). Here, we investigate the impacts of a warming of the Gulf consistent with climate change projections on the intensity of this OMZ. Using a series of eddy-resolving model simulations, we show that the warming of the Gulf waters increases their buoyancy and hence limits their contribution to the ventilation of intermediate depths. This leads to an intensification of the OMZ and an increase in denitrification that depletes subsurface nitrate and limits deoxygenation at depth. The projected future concomitant increase of Gulf salinity only partially reduces the OMZ intensification. Our findings highlight the importance of the Arabian marginal seas for the biogeochemistry of the North Indian Ocean and stress the need for improving their representation in global climate models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5420-5429
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 28 2019


  • Arabian Gulf
  • Arabian Sea
  • Persian Gulf
  • climate change
  • marginal seas
  • oxygen minimum zones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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