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Tags Current Affairs

Evidence of ocean mixing

Date: 09 July 2020 Tags: Geography & Environment

Issue

A new research has provided the first direct evidence for the Gulf Stream blender effect, identifying a new mechanism of mixing water across the swift-moving current. 

 

Background

The results have important implications for weather, climate, and fisheries because ocean mixing plays a critical role in these processes.

 

Details

  • The churning along the edges of the Gulf Stream across areas as small as a kilometer could be a leading source of ocean mixing between the waters on either side of the current.

  • As the Gulf Stream courses its way up the east coast of the U.S. and Canada, it brings warm salty water from the tropics into the North Atlantic.

  • But the current also creates an invisible wall of water that divides two distinct ocean regions: the colder, fresher waters along the northern edge of the Gulf Stream, and the warmer, saltier waters on the southern edge of the current.

  • By showing that small-scale mixing across the Gulf Stream may have a significant impact, the new study reveals an important, under-recognized contributor to ocean circulation, biology, and potentially climate.

  • The Gulf Stream plays an important role in what's known as the ocean biological pump—a system that traps excess carbon dioxide, buffering the planet from global warming.

  • In the surface waters of the Gulf Stream region, ocean mixing influences the growth of phytoplankton—the base of the ocean food web.

  • This phytoplankton absorbs carbon dioxide near the surface and later sink to the bottom, taking carbon with them and trapping it in the deep ocean.

Gulf Stream

  • The Gulf Stream is one of the largest drivers of climate and biological productivity from Florida to Newfoundland and along the western coast of Europe.

  • It is part of the North Atlantic Gyre and formed due to ocean circulation. Its presence has led to the development of strong cyclones of all types, both within the atmosphere and within the ocean.

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