Surface circulation features in the Bay of Bengal as seen in ERTS imagery

P.K. Rao


Multispectral scanner data obtained from the Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS) for 14 and 15 September 1974 over the Bay of Bengal show interesting circulation features. Imagery from 0.5-0.6 mu m and 0.6-0.7 mu m channels show some sediment transport in the Bay along the relatively shallow part of the coastline. A very sharp boundary in the reflectance of the water delineates an area with very little sediment and without any clouds. The absence of clouds can be attributed to relatively cooler water at the surface, inhibiting the growth of low-level convective clouds. An intense tropical storm that crossed the coast over this area on 10 September 1972 mixed the upper layers of the Bay causing a net cooling effect at the surface. Some circulation features in the western section of the Bay can be deduced from ERTS imagery. These indicate a counterclockwise circulation from the head of the Bay of Bengal to 17 degrees N and a clockwise circulation south of 17 degrees N. This is in agreement with the mean monthly circulation patterns published by the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office


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