The currents of the North Indian Ocean follow a seasonal pattern because of the monsoons and reverse their direction under their influence. The Northeast Monsoon Current occurs during the NE monsoon and reaches its peak in February. It is located between the equator and latitude 6 °N and has a westward set. Its counterpart is the Southwest Monsoon Current which occurs from May to September and can be considered to be a continuation of the Somali Current. This current can attain very high rates, especially off the' coast of Somalia and in the vicinity of Socotra, where some of the strongest sets in the world have been recorded, with rates of up to 7 knots. Although the initial set is NE, the current becomes east in the open waters of the Arabian Sea until it reaches the landmass of India and turns SE.
At the time of the NE monsoon, the Somali Current flows SW along the African coast as far as the equator where it meets the north flowing East Africa Coast Current. In December and January, the current turns east and becomes the Equatorial Countercurrent.
The Equatorial Countercurrent is the only current of the North Indian Ocean which does not reverse its direction as a result of the monsoons. However, its strength is reinforced during the transitional periods between the two monsoons in April-May and October-November. It sets east throughout the year and lies to the north of the west-setting Equatorial Current. The Equatorial Countercurrent reaches its southern limit in February, at the height of the NE monsoon, when it sometimes flows very close to the Northeast Monsoon Current. This means that by moving slightly to the north or south, it is possible to shift from a west-setting to an east-setting current. The southern limit of the Countercurrent is always south of the equator, regardless of season.
Was this article helpful?