International Ocean Discovery Program
Expedition 353 Preliminary Report
Indian Monsoon Rainfall1
29 November 2014–29 January 2015
Steven C. Clemens, Wolfgang Kuhnt, Leah J. LeVay, and the Expedition 353 Scientists
Published April 2015
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International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 353 (29 November 2014–29 January 2015) drilled six sites in the Bay of Bengal, recovering 4280 m of sediments during 32.9 days of on-site drilling. Recovery averaged 97%, including coring with the advanced piston corer, half-length advanced piston corer, and extended core barrel systems. The primary objective of Expedition 353 is to reconstruct changes in Indian monsoon circulation since the Miocene at tectonic to centennial timescales. Analysis of the sediment sections recovered will improve our understanding of how monsoonal climates respond to changes in forcing external to the Earth’s climate system (i.e., insolation) and changes in forcing internal to the Earth’s climate system, including changes in continental ice volume, greenhouse gases, sea level, and the ocean-atmosphere exchange of energy and moisture. All of these mechanisms play critical roles in current and future climate change in monsoonal regions.
The primary signal targeted is the exceptionally low salinity surface waters that result, in roughly equal measure, from both direct summer monsoon precipitation to the Bay of Bengal and runoff from the numerous large river basins that drain into the Bay of Bengal. Changes in rainfall and surface ocean salinity are captured and preserved in a number of chemical, physical, isotopic, and biological components of sediments deposited in the Bay of Bengal. Expedition 353 sites are strategically located in key regions where these signals are the strongest and best preserved. Salinity changes at IODP Sites U1445 and U1446 (northeast Indian margin) result from direct precipitation as well as runoff from the Ganges-Brahmaputra river complex and the many river basins of peninsular India. Salinity changes at IODP Sites U1447 and U1448 (Andaman Sea) result from direct precipitation and runoff from the Irrawaddy and Salween river basins. IODP Site U1443 (Ninetyeast Ridge) is an open-ocean site with a modern surface water salinity very near the global mean but is documented to have recorded changes in monsoonal circulation over orbital to tectonic timescales. This site serves as an anchor for establishing the extent to which the north to south (19°N to 5°N) salinity gradient changes over time.
1Clemens, S.C., Kuhnt, W., LeVay, L.J., and the Expedition 353 Scientists, 2015. Indian monsoon rainfall. International Ocean Discovery Program Preliminary Report, 353. http://dx.doi.org/10.14379/iodp.pr.353.2015
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