Scientists from the University of East Anglia, and the National Oceanography Centre are travelling to Chennai today to embark on a month-long research cruise in the Bay of Bengal to improve understanding and forecasts of the Indian Monsoon. The team will launch seven Seagliders: robotic submarines the size and weight of a small person that are perfectly suited to taking high resolution measurements of the ocean in rough weather. This is important because to date very few ocean measurements have been obtained during the Indian Monsoon due to the strong wind and large waves.
The scientists working on the BoBBLE project will use the information collected by these Seagliders, along with a wealth of data from the ship and nine Argo floats, to better understand what drives changes in the surface conditions over the Bay of Bengal. These surface conditions have a major influence on the monsoon rainfall in India, because the warm sea surface provides the energy and moisture that powers developing rainfall systems as they move northwards over the Bay. However, the details of the ocean processes are poorly understood due to a lack of observations. By combining the process-based understanding from the Seaglider observations with state-of-the-art computer simulations (in collaboration with scientists at the University of Reading), we will be able to test hypotheses and work towards improving forecasts of the Indian Monsoon.