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Observed current variability in Gulf of Mannar


We present current data from an acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) moored on the continental shelf-break in the Gulf of Mannar (GoM) near Ram Setu during 2010–2011. The observations show that the near-surface, sub-inertial current flows primarily north-westward all round the year. This north-westward flow is punctuated by intraseasonal bursts that last a few weeks. Compared to the current off Kanyakumari, the intraseasonal fluctuations in the GoM are weaker and in the opposite direction. The flip in direction is linked to eddy-like circulations, which cause the current to bifurcate or merge in the region between Kanyakumari and Ram Setu.

Research highlights

  • Ocean current data collected in Gulf of Mannar.

  • Near-surface current is north-westward over most part of the year.

  • Current shows intraseasonal variability.

  • Intraseasonal variability in the Gulf of Mannar current is weaker and in opposite direction compared to off Kanyakumari current.

  • The opposite direction of Gulf of Mannar and off Kanyakumari currents is linked to local changes in the sea level.

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The support from the CSIR-NIO ship cell members (A C D’Souza, S K Miliketan, R Sheldon, S Vernekar and L A Bewoor), officers, crew, and seamen from various cruises is gratefully acknowledged. The comments from D Shankar and two anonymous reviewers helped improve this paper considerably. The mooring operations were carried out on the research vessel ORV Sindhu Sankalp. Financial support for this project was provided by Sethusamudram Corporation Limited, Chennai. VJ acknowledges funding support from ESSO-INCOIS. Following sources for data are acknowledged: The OSCAR-current products were obtained from the NASA EOSDIS Physical Oceanography Distributed Active Archive Center (PO.DAAC) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (USA), the Ssalto/Duacs altimeter products were produced and distributed by the Copernicus Marine and Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS,, and the ASCAT winds were obtained from Ferret from PMEL/NOAA and Python were used for analysis and graphics, and R was used for estimating the wavelet coherence. Wavelet software was provided by C Torrence and G Compo, and is available at This is CSIR-NIO contribution 6769.

Author information




V Fernando, G S Michael, P A Tari, M G Gaonkar, N P Satelkar, and S T Khalap were involved in data acquisition. Vineet Jain and P Amol drafted the manuscript. Vineet Jain, P Amol and A Kankonkar processed, analysed, and interpreted the data. Vineet Jain, P Amol, S G Aparna, and V Fernando conceived and designed the study.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to P Amol.

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Supplementary material pertaining to this article is available on the Journal of Earth System Science website (

Communicated by C Gnanaseelan

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Jain, V., Amol, P., Fernando, V. et al. Observed current variability in Gulf of Mannar. J Earth Syst Sci 130, 197 (2021).

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  • Ram Setu
  • Adam’s Bridge
  • ADCPs
  • intraseasonal variability
  • monsoon currents