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phys O ocean dynamics 2 - The Gulf Stream o o o o o o o o A...

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The Gulf Stream o A good example of a geostrophic current o The most studies current in the world o Departs the coast at Cape Hatteras o Can tell when you reach it because of color change and is about 100 km wide o Can also identify by sloping sea surface and sloping isopycnals and isotherms o Is the fastest current in the world Max is around 2 m/s (about the same as a rip current) Velocity is about 40 cm/s below 1km depth o Transports second largest volume of water 1 sv = 1,000,000 m ³ /s Max is at 65 ° N o Path constantly changes =  meanders  downstream of Cape Hatteras Bound to the north by continental shelf Tends to stay around the same latitude as Cape Hatteras             Normally appear in wave-like pattern From crest to crest is one meander Propagation speed is about 8 km/day Slower than in the atmosphere As they move, some water is sheared off the top Amplitudes around 50-400 km Wavelengths around 200-400 km o Gulf Stream Rings Eddies that break off Analagous to hurricanes in the atmosphere 2 types: Warm core - found north of the stream; "high pressure" = downwelling Cold core - found south of the stream; "low pressure" = upwelling How they form: Meanders become very steep and pinch off Warm core- from large northward meanders; trap warm Sargasso Sea  water
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Can have a 10-15 °  difference Cold core- from large southward meanders; trap cold water and move into  Sargasso sea             Rings can persist for up to a year Rotation: warm core: clockwise                   cold core: counter clockwise Formation transfers energy, water, organisms across the Stream The largest mechanism to transport water across the current Gulf Stream Rings o Warm Core Rings Found between Stream and continental slope  Are anticyclonic Move to the west Get reabsorbed into the Stream within one year "bumps" into a meander or gets "squeezed" in by closing distance  between Stream and shelf around Cape Hatteras Easily seen in SST maps o Cold Core Rings Found throughout Sargasso Sea Are cyclonic Short term: can move in any direction Long term: drift to the west Can last for several years Get reabsorbed into the Stream or dissipate or spin down because of friction Once they move away, lose their identity in SST images Sargasso Sea gets uniformly warm Can only see them when they are pulling cold water from the Stream o Stream forms about 10-15 rings per year o Average diameter around 150-300 km; they are the largest eddies in the world o
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