The present invention provides a system and method for actively manipulating fluid flow over a surface using synthetic pulsators. Synthetic pulsators produce pulsed jet operable to manipulate the primary fluid flow proximate to the synthetic pulsator. The synthetic pulsator includes a synthetic jet actuator(s) located within an ambient pressure chamber, wherein the synthetic jet actuator is operable to produce an oscillatory flow. The oscillatory flow of the synthetic jet(s) produces the pulsed jet operable to manipulate the primary fluid flow. These synthetic pulsators may then be actively manipulated to control the flow behavior of the ducted fluid flow, influence the inception point and trajectory of flow field vortices within the fluid flow, and reduce flow separation within the primary fluid flow.