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Diving on the wrong side of the Indian Ocean Dipole
smilingseahorse - 5/21/2020 10:56 PM
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Diving on the wrong side of the Indian Ocean DipoleMergui Archipelago, Myanmar
As scuba divers, we are often at the whim of the weather and the ocean. Booking a diving holiday months in advance usually involves research into the seasons and how the weather in the area is during the time we wish to go. Unfortunately, all the research in the world can’t always save you from the guiles of mother nature.
This was the case this year in areas of South East Asia, including the Mergui
Archipelago in Myanmar. Normally a trip to this part of the world can be fairly
confidently planned to avoid the monsoon or hot seasons to ensure the best
diving conditions you can get from November till April. In early 2020, a
climatological phenomenon known as an Indian Ocean dipole foiled the plans
of many divers in this part of the world...
The Indian Ocean, nestled in between Asia, Africa and Australia, undergoes
yearly changes in surface temperature referred to as the Indian Ocean
Dipole. This occurrence, discovered in 1999 by climate researchers,
alternates between three distinct phases which reoccur every 3 to 5 years.
These phases affect the weather systems in the surrounding land and water
masses in different ways. The neutral phases bring warm water from the
Pacific Ocean through Indonesia and westerly winds along the equator, which
keep temperatures relatively normal across the tropical seas. Positive and
negative phases tend to create a gradient in temperature across the ocean,
affecting surface temperatures and rainfall on either side of the vast body of