RIPEX 2017

Date: April 19, 2017

currents Rip currents ISRO

ISRO in collaboration with Drishti, is conducting a experiment on the factors responsible for the formation of rip currents along Goa’s coastline, thereby improving public safety. This is the first study of its kind being carried out in India by ISRO which is named as RIPEX 2017. The study is being conducted by a team of scientists at Space Applications Centre (SAC), ISRO Ahmedabad.


What is Rip current?


Rip currents can be considered as one of the deadliest tricks of the ocean. Essentially, these currents are rivers of the ocean.


  • Rip current is basically a jet stream of water flowing away from the beach at a high speed, some 10 feet per second! They are strong, narrow currents flowing away from the beach and they are strong enough to pull you away from the beach into the water.
  • Even professional swimmers can hardly swim against their speed! However, the one fact about rip currents that matters to us is that it is an avoidable accident-death.



How Rip current is formed?


Let's look into the formation of such currents first. Rip currents form in several different ways. Quickly changing wave heights can form such currents as also sandbars from where water is funneled out to the sea.

  • The key ingredient in all rip currents is breaking waves. Rip currents are formed mainly when the waves hit the shores not at an angle, but perpendicularly.
  • Because of this, the waves are caused to become horizontal long shore waves that run parallel along the beach in left and right direction. When two of these long shore currents meet, a rip current is formed.
  • Many factors influence the formation of rip currents, some of which include weather, tides, local variations in beach shapes and how waves break offshore. A windy atmosphere is most influential in the formation of rip currents. It is also possible that some beaches may never have any rip currents and some beaches may frequently have them.


Is there any differentiation between Rip current and Rip tide?

While the terms are ofter confused, rip currents are different than rip tides. A rip tide is a specific type of current associated with the swift movement of tidal water through inlets and the mouths of estuaries, embayments, and harbors.