• Siddhartha Chatterjee

      Articles written in Journal of Earth System Science

    • Tidal variations in the Sundarbans Estuarine System, India

      Meenakshi Chatterjee D Shankar G K Sen P Sanyal D Sundar G S Michael Abhisek Chatterjee P Amol Debabrata Mukherjee K Suprit A Mukherjee V Vijith Siddhartha Chatterjee Anwesha Basu Madhumita Das Saranya Chakraborti Aravind Kalla Surja Kanta Misra Soumya Mukhopadhyay Gopal Mandal Kankan Sarkar

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      Situated in the eastern coastal state of West Bengal, the Sundarbans Estuarine System (SES) is India’s largest monsoonal, macro-tidal delta-front estuarine system. It comprises the southernmost part of the Indian portion of the Ganga–Brahmaputra delta bordering the Bay of Bengal. The Sundarbans Estuarine Programme (SEP), conducted during 18–21 March 2011 (the Equinoctial Spring Phase), was the first comprehensive observational programme undertaken for the systematic monitoring of the tides within the SES. The 30 observation stations, spread over more than 3600 km2, covered the seven inner estuaries of the SES (the Saptamukhi, Thakuran, Matla, Bidya, Gomdi, Harinbhanga, and Raimangal) and represented a wide range of estuarine and environmental conditions. At all stations, tidal water levels (every 15 minutes), salinity, water and air temperatures (hourly) were measured over the six tidal cycles. We report the observed spatio-temporal variations of the tidal water level. The predominantly semi-diurnal tides were observed to amplify northwards along each estuary, with the highest amplification observed at Canning, situated about 98 km north of the seaface on the Matla. The first definite sign of decay of the tide was observed only at Sahebkhali on the Raimangal, 108 km north of the seaface. The degree and rates of amplification of the tide over the various estuarine stretches were not uniform and followed a complex pattern. A least-squares harmonic analysis of the data performed with eight constituent bands showed that the amplitude of the semi-diurnal band was an order of magnitude higher than that of the other bands and it doubled from mouth to head. The diurnal band showed no such amplification, but the amplitude of the 6-hourly and 4-hourly bands increased headward by a factor of over 4. Tide curves for several stations displayed a tendency for the formation of double peaks at both high water (HW) and low water (LW). One reason for these double-peaks was the HW/LW stands of the tide observed at these stations. During a stand, the water level changes imperceptibly around high tide and low tide. The existence of a stand at most locations is a key new finding of the SEP. We present an objective criterion for identifying if a stand occurs at a station and show that the water level changed imperceptibly over durations ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours during the tidal stands in the SES. The tidal duration asymmetry observed at all stations was modified by the stand. Flow-dominant asymmetry was observed at most locations, with ebb-dominant asymmetry being observed at a few locations over some tidal cycles. The tidal asymmetry and stand have implications for human activity in the Sundarbans. The longer persistence of the high water level around high tide implies that a storm surge is more likely to coincide with the high tide, leading to a greater chance of destruction. Since the stands are associated with an amplification of the 4-hourly and 6-hourly constituents, storm surges that have a similar period are also likely to amplify more during their passage through the SES.

    • Variation of salinity in the Sundarbans Estuarine System during the Equinoctial Spring tidal phase of March 2011


      More Details Abstract Fulltext PDF

      The Sundarbans Estuarine System (SES), comprising the southernmost part of the Indian portion of the Ganga-Brahmaputra delta bordering the Bay of Bengal, is India’s largest monsoonal, macro-tidal, delta-front estuarine system. The Sundarbans Estuarine Programme (SEP), covering six semi-diurnal tidal cycles during 18–21 March 2011 (the Equinoctial Spring Phase), was the first comprehensive observational programme in the SES. The 30 observation stations, spread over more than 3600 km2km2, covered the seven inner estuaries of the SES: the Saptamukhi, Thakuran, Matla, Bidya, Gomdi, Harinbhanga, and Raimangal. At all stations or time-series locations (TSLs), the water level was measured every 15 min and water samples were collected every hour for estimating salinity. We report the observed spatio-temporal variations of salinity in this paper. The mean salinity over the six tidal cycles decreased upstream and the mean range of salinity over a tidal cycle increased upstream. In addition to this along-channel variation, the mean salinity also varied zonally across the SES. Salinity was lowest in the eastern SES, with the lowest value occurring at the TSLs on the Raimangal. Though higher than at the Raimangal TSLs, the mean salinity was also low at Mahendranagar, the westernmost TSL located on the West Gulley of the Saptamukhi. Salinity tended to be higher in the central part of the SES. CTD (conductivity–temperature–depth) measurements at three stations on the Matla show a well-mixed profile. Only the Raimangal has a freshwater source at its head. Therefore, the upstream decrease of salinity in the SES is likely to be the effect of the preceding summer monsoon, which would have freshened the estuary, and the ingress of salt from the seaward end due to the tide following the cessation of of the monsoon rains. The freshwater inflow from the Raimangal leads to the lowest salinities occurring in the eastern SES. The lower salinity in the western SES also suggests inflow from the Hoogly estuary, whose freshwater source is regulated via the Farakka Barrage. At 20 of the 30 TSLs, the salinity varied semi-diurnally, like the water level, and the maximum (minimum) salinity tended to occur at or around high (low) water. The temporal variation was more complex at the other 10 TSLs. Even at the TSLs at which a tidal stand exceeding 75 min was seen in the water level, the salinity oscillated with a semi-diurnal period. Thus, the salinity variation was unaffected by the stand of the tide that has been reported from the SES.


      $\bullet$ Comprehensive description of salinity variability in the Sundarbans Estuarine System (SES)

      $\bullet$ Semi-diurnal variation seen at a majority of the stations and the estuaries are well-mixed

      $\bullet$ Mean salinity decreases upstream and is lower in the eastern and western SES

      $\bullet$ The upstream decrease is due to the preceding monsoon and the tidal ingress of salt

      $\bullet$ Direct (indirect) inflow from the Ganga (Hoogly) lowers salinity in the eastern (western) SES

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