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ocean circulation pressure contour plot

Deep Waters on the Move

Deep Atlantic Ocean circulation, part of the "global conveyor" system, strongly affects climate. WHOI, U.S. and international researchers launched more than 200 data-gathering floats into the North Atlantic between 1994 and 2002, to drift at specified depths and measure water movements. WHOI physical oceanographer Brechner Owens and postdoctoral researcher Kara Lavender, using the float data, found complex circulation patterns at 700 meters (2,300 feet) depth. In this map—“still the best idea we have of circulation at that depth,” said Owens—higher speed is shown by tightly packed contour lines. (Illustration by Kara Lavender, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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