Monday, 30 June 2014

Everyday miracles 7: deep ocean eddies

(c) Ocean University of China
Research by oceanographers led by Prof  Bo Qiu, University of Hawaii using 3000+ ARGO floats  shows huge ocean eddies 60 miles across extending 3000 feet below the surface. The vortexes may last months or years. Until now the only data was surface eddies mapped by NASA satellites. 

Ryan Abernathy, who studies the impact of ocean circulation on climate at Columbia University says it will kick off new research.  ”The volume estimate is really surprising,” he said. “This is an important effect. The next question is how leaky the eddy is.” The eddy is made of water, after all, and the difference between inside and outside is not precise. If, say, the dissolved carbon caught in an eddy slowly slips out, then after a year of meandering an eddy may have left its original contents an ocean away. But if the eddies hold their cargo tightly, they might be shipping enormous packages of carbon, salt, and pollutants from Australia to Africa and from Europe to America. Scientists are now trying to figure out how the packages effect local ecosystems and the planet’s climate. How do they affect high and low air-pressure weather fronts?

In the NASA anmation below, red ocean eddies spin clockwise, blue ones counterclockwise.  

Thanks to Terramar Project for this news.

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