Gulf Stream Ring Water Intrudes Onto Continental Shelf Like ‘Pinocchio’s Nose’

2015-10-01T12:29:15+00:00 October 1, 2015|
Satellite imagery shows the exchange of warm core ring water (red) with the colder continental shelf waters (blue). (Credit: Jack Cook/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

(Click to enlarge) Satellite imagery shows the exchange of warm core ring water (red) with the colder continental shelf waters (blue). (Credit: Jack Cook/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Ocean robots installed off the coast of Massachusetts have helped scientists understand a previously unknown process by which warm Gulf Stream water and colder waters of the continental shelf exchange.

(From Phys.org) — The process occurs when offshore waters, originating in the tropics, intrude onto the Mid-Atlantic Bight shelf and meet the waters originating in regions near the Arctic. This process can greatly affect shelf circulation, biogeochemistry and fisheries.

In 2006, scientists using satellite imagery observed an elongated body of warm water from a Gulf Stream warm-core ring intruding along the shelf edge, extending hundreds of miles from Massachusetts towards Cape Hatteras, NC.

“A lot of people were surprised by this,” said Weifeng ‘Gordon’ Zhang, associate scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and lead author of the study published today in Geophysical Research Letters. “Normally, the Gulf Stream water, which is very warm and buoyant, doesn’t come in direct contact with the water on the , which is much colder. There is a cascade of potential implications that need further study.”

Read the full article here: http://phys.org/news/2015-09-gulf-stream-intrudes-continental-shelf.html