In parts of the Southern Ocean, the striations -- also known as ocean fronts -- produce alternating eastward and westward accelerations of circulation. Portions of the pattern nearly circumnavigate Antarctica. In the Atlantic Ocean, the flows bear a strong association to the Azores Current along which water flowing south from the North Atlantic circulation is being subducted.
The linkage between the striations and the larger scale patterns of currents could improve predictions of sea temperatures and hurricane paths, the scientists say.
The striations also delineate ocean regions where uptake of carbon dioxide is greatest, they add.
A report on the striations by Nikolai Maximenko of the University of Hawaii, Peter Niiler of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, and their colleagues was published today in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).
In the new analysis, the researchers have produced the clearest representation to date of striated patterns in the eastern Pacific Ocean and show that these complex patterns of currents extend from the surface to depths of 700 meters (2,300 feet).
The patterns are so extraordinary "that our first proposal submitted to the National Science Foundation failed miserably because most reviewers said 'You cannot study what does not exist,'" Maximenko recalls.
Since the 1960s, a number of researchers have theorized the existence of striations in the ocean, says Niiler, who led the new study. He came up with the first theory in 1965.Niiler attributes the ultimate detection of these current patterns to the long-term and comprehensive ocean current measurements made over more than 20 years by the Global Drifter Program, now a network of more than 1,300 drifting buoys.
The drifters were designed by Niiler and are administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
In the new study, Maximenko undertook a combined satellite and drifter analysis of ocean velocity that helped clarify the dimensions of striated currents at the surface and of ocean temperature that helped confirm their presence at depth.
"The striations are like ghosts," he says. Clear resolution of these subtle features would not have been possible without the use of data from both the drifters and satellites, he adds.
The new work shows striations associated with some important ecosystems, such as the California and Peru-Chile current systems. Off California, the striations are linked to the steady east-west displacements, or meanders, of the California Current, a major flow that runs from the border of Washington and Oregon to the southern tip of Baja California. The striations run nearly perpendicular to the California Current and continue southwestward to the Hawaiian Islands. Niiler theorizes that the striations in the eastern North Pacific are caused by the angular momentum of the swirling eddies within the California Current System.
Niiler notes that many computer models that can simulate equatorial currents fail to accurately simulate the meandering flow of the California Current and the striations that exude from it. The new striated maps of ocean circulation may serve as a yardstick for judging the accuracy of the circulation patterns portrayed by climate and ocean ecosystem models, he says, eventually leading to substantially more reliable forecasting tools for climate and ecosystem management.
"This research presents the next challenge in ocean modeling," says Niiler. "I'm looking forward to the day when we can correctly portray most ocean circulation systems with all climate and ecosystem models."
Maximenko, Niiler, and their colleagues are also investigating ties between the crisscross patterns and currents such as the Kuroshio, which flows in western Pacific Ocean waters near Japan.
NOAA, the National Science Foundation, the NASA Ocean Surface Topography Team, and the Japan Agency for Marine Earth Science and Technology supported the research.
Tiny microenvironments in the ocean hold clues to global nitrogen cycle
23.04.2018 | University of Rochester
Clear as mud: Desiccation cracks help reveal the shape of water on Mars
20.04.2018 | Geological Society of America
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
23.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.04.2018 | Trade Fair News