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Images: The Oceans Have Their Own Weather Systems

Data from satellite altimeters (lower inset), which measure sea surface heights, show depressions (blue) and bumps (red) that mark cold- and warm-water eddies in the ocean on June 17, 2005. Researchers tracked the southwestward motion of eddy A4 (light-blue in the upper inset) by ship from June 24 to Sept. 12. They released several drifters and a buoy (colored tracks) to capture the swirling motion of the eddy?s currents. (Courtesy of Dennis McGillicuddy, WHOI, and the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research)

The research vessels Oceanus and Weatherbird II worked in tandem for two summers, tracking different aspects of eddy dynamics. The ships met at sea several times during the two-year operation. (Photo by Josh Eaton, WHOI)

Dennis McGillicuddy helps prepare to lower the Video Plankton Recorder (VPR) from R/V Oceanus. The VPR found billions of microscopic plants blooming in eddy A4. (Photo by Stephan Duller, Rutgers University)

Researchers deploy a sampling sled to detect chemical tracers, which helped them track how eddies mix water layers of the ocean. (Photo by David Ciochetto, Dalhousie University)

From left, Leo Byckovas, Brian Guest, Blair Greenan, Penelope Howe, and Nathan Buck prepare to lower an "integrating sampler." Arrays of these samplers were slowly towed through the ocean to track how the eddy had spread harmless chemical tracers through the ocean. (Photo by David Ciochetto, Dalhousie University)

Sarah Bender, a Rutgers University researcher, processes water samples in the laboratory on R/V Oceanus. She measured how nutrients affect the abundance of microscopic plants in the eddy. (Photo by Valery Kosnyrev, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

R/V Oceanus Bosun Jim McGill (top, blue shirt) and Able Seaman Bill Hoff (yellow shirt) operate the winch to deploy a conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) water sampler into the Sargasso Sea, as WHOI oceanographer Dennis McGillicuddy (bottom left) and Rutgers Postdoctoral Scholar Diana Nemergut look on. (Photo by Donglai Gong, Rutgers University)