Mesoscale eddies found to move far more ocean water than previously thought

first_img More information: Oceanic Mass Transport by Mesoscale Eddies, Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1252418ABSTRACTOceanic transports of heat, salt, and fresh water, dissolved CO2 and other tracers regulate global climate change and distribution of natural marine resources. While the time-mean ocean circulation transports fluid as a conveyor belt, fluid parcels can also be trapped and transported discretely by migrating mesoscale eddies. By combining available satellite altimetry and Argo profiling float data, we show that the eddy-induced zonal mass transport can reach a total meridionally integrated value up to 30-40 Sv (1 Sv = 106 m3 s−1), and it occurs mainly in subtropical regions where the background flows are weak. This transport is comparable in magnitude with that of the large-scale, wind- and thermohaline-driven circulation. Three-dimensional structure of an oceanic mesoscale eddy and the fluid trapped by this eddy. Credit: Sergey Kryazhimskiy Journal information: Science Explore further First direct evidence that breaking waves cause horizontal eddies ( —A trio of researchers, two from the Ocean University of China, and a third from the University of Hawaii, has found that mesoscale eddies—swirling masses of water that travel westward in the subtropics—appear to carry far more water with them than scientists have realized. In their paper published in the journal Science, Zhengguang Zhang, Wei Wang and Bo Qiu discuss the study they undertook of the water vortices using altimetry and data from ARGO submersibles to measure the size of the eddies and to track their movements over time.last_img