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Graveyard of the Atlantic

Where Currents Collide

In January 2005, an expedition led by WHOI physical oceanographer Glen Gawarkiewicz set out on R/V Oceanus for the tumultuous waters off the coast off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina—aptly nicknamed “the graveyard of the Atlantic.” There, the warm, salty Gulf Stream converges with a strong, southward-flowing current at the edge of the continental shelf that carries colder, fresher water from the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans. The two water masses have different densities, so they don’t blend seamlessly into each other, but rather collide. Like low- and high-pressure air masses in the atmosphere, these two form “fronts,” or boundaries, which continually interact with each other. (Photo by Chris Linder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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