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.
New research calculates capacity of North American forests to sequester carbon
16.07.2018 | University of California - Santa Cruz
Scientists discover Earth's youngest banded iron formation in western China
12.07.2018 | University of Alberta
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
17.07.2018 | Information Technology
17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering