Observed seasonal and intraseasonal variability of the East India Coastal Current on the continental slope
We present data from three acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) moored off Cuddalore (12°N), Kakinada (16.5°N), and Gopalpur (19°N) on the continental slope of the western Bay of Bengal and one mooring on the slope of the northern bay (89°E, 19°N; referred to as being located at Paradip). The data were collected during May 2009 to March 2013 and the observations show that the seasonal cycle, which includes the annual cycle, the semi-annual cycle, and a peak around 120 days, dominates the observed variability of the East India Coastal Current (EICC). Spectral analysis suggests that the 120-day peak dominates the seasonal variability at Paradip and is strong at Gopalpur and Kakinada. The annual cycle is coherent along the western boundary of the bay, i.e., the east coast of India, but with significant phase differences between moorings. At the semi-annual and 120-day periods, the alongshore coherence is weaker. Intraseasonal variability is weaker than the seasonal cycle, particularly at Cuddalore and Paradip, and it exhibits seasonality: the strongest intraseasonal variation is during spring (February–April). Peaks around 12 and 20–22 days are also seen at Gopalpur, Kakinada, and Cuddalore. A striking feature of the currents is the upward phase propagation, but there are also instances when phase propagates downward. The much lower vertical phase speed in the top ∼100 m at Cuddalore leads to a distinct undercurrent at this location; at other locations, the undercurrent, though it exists often, is not as striking. During spring, however, the EICC tends to flow poleward (eastward) at Cuddalore, Kakinada, and Gopalpur (Paradip) over the top ∼300 m, which is the maximum depth to which observations were made. The cross-shore component of the EICC is much weaker than the alongshore component at Cuddalore and, except for a few bursts during spring, at Kakinada and Gopalpur. It is only at Paradip, on the slope of the northern boundary, that significant cross-shore flows are seen during spring and the summer monsoon (June–August) and these flows are seen to be associated with eddy-like circulations in the altimeter data. We use the ADCP data to validate popular current data products like OSCAR (Ocean Surface Currents Analyses Real-time), ECCO2 (Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, Phase II), and GODAS (Global Ocean Data Assimilation System). The OSCAR currents at Paradip match the observed currents well, but the correlation is much weaker at the other three locations. Both ECCO2 and GODAS fair poorly, particularly the latter because its variability in this boundary-current regime is extremely weak. Though it performs badly at Paradip, ECCO2 does capture the observed variability on occasions at the other locations.