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Keywords:

  • Bay of Bengal;
  • Western Boundary Current;
  • eddies;
  • altimeter;
  • potential vorticity

Abstract

[1] We present evidence that the springtime western boundary current (WBC) in the Bay of Bengal is a continuous northward-flowing current from about 12°N to 17°N, which then separates from the coast at around 18°N. We first revisit a hydrographic data set collected in 1987 from a potential vorticity perspective, and then analyze absolute dynamic height maps from satellite altimeters during the period 2000–2010. The altimetric maps suggest that the mean configuration of the WBC is that of an intense current with two anticyclonic eddies on the offshore side, which are part of the basin-wide anticyclonic circulation. The WBC consistently separates from the coast at around 18°N in all years between 2000 and 2010. The path of the eastward-flowing mean stream after separation appears to be consistent with isolines of f/H and with Ertel's potential vorticity, based on an analysis of the hydrographic data from 1987.