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NEWS | March 21, 2014

NRL Begins Project to Understand Ocean Circulation in Bay of Bengal

By Kyra Wiens

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Oceanography Division scientists deployed moorings in the international waters of the Bay of Bengal during December 2013 from the R/V Roger Revelle, a research vessel operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography as part of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS).

Observations of currents, waves, tides, salinity, and temperature collected through 2015 will improve predictions of this environment for naval operations, via NRL's forecasting tool, Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS®).

The Bay of Bengal is a low-salinity pool and receives large influxes of freshwater from river runoff and rainfall, especially during monsoons. In contrast, the Arabian Sea, on the western side of India, is dominated by evaporation and is highly saline. How these waters come together in the Indian Ocean is known to affect monsoon variability, climate, ocean circulation, and biological productivity; but the specific processes are not well understood.

The moorings, anchored to the sea floor, suspend an acoustic Doppler current profiler within a buoy about 100 meters below the sea surface. Other instruments on the mooring line sample temperature, conductivity, and pressure every hour.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) collaborated on the project.

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