Articles | Volume 12, issue 12
Research article
07 Dec 2012
Research article |  | 07 Dec 2012

Propagation of Atlantic Ocean swells in the north Indian Ocean: a case study

S. V. Samiksha, P. Vethamony, V. M. Aboobacker, and R. Rashmi

Abstract. An analysis of altimeter significant wave height data of May 2007 revealed the occurrence of an extreme weather event off southern tip of South Africa in the Atlantic Ocean, and generation of a series of very high swells at 40° S. These swells propagated towards northeast and broke over La Réunion island in the Indian Ocean on 12 May 2007. The wave model WAVEWATCH III was used to study the propagation of these swells in the Indian Ocean. The model was validated for the Indian Ocean using moored buoy data at 12 locations and merged altimeter wave data. The wave model accurately reproduced the event of May 2007. Swell heights, of the order of 15.0 m, at the generation area reduced to 6.0 m near La Réunion island. This study shows that the swells generated in the Roaring Forties of the Atlantic Ocean (between 15° to 80° E longitude) propagate in the NE/NNE direction towards the north Indian Ocean, and wave characteristics of the Arabian Sea are least influenced compared to that of Bay of Bengal, when swells from the Atlantic Ocean enter the Indian Ocean. The double peak spectrum extracted for the Bay of Bengal indicates that one of the peaks is due to swells generated off southern tip of South Africa.