Irminger Rings Project Overview

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Image of carousels that will release floats into the Labrador Sea
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Mooring materials and instruments are being prepared for the September cruise. In the background, Dr. Bower looks over an upright float-releasing platform. Another platform lies on its side. The long yellow cylinder in the foreground is a float. (Terry McKee)

Image of Jim Valdes, WHOI engineer and Amy Bower examining new profiling float
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Sr. Engineer, Jim Valdes, discusses features of a new profiling float with Dr. Bower in WHOI's high bay area. Before the mooring is lowered into the water, twelve floats will be attached to the platforms. (Terry McKee)

Image of a Submerged Autonomous Lagrangian Platform, which will hold and automatically release six profile floats over two years.
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Two Submerged Autonomous Lagrangian Platforms (SALP) will be moored at a depth of 500 meters for two years. During that time, they will release twelve profiling floats into eddies that pass by. (Terry McKee)

Related Multimedia
Irminger Rings Mooring
Animation of the proposed Irminger Rings Project mooring, to be deployed in September 2007.
Jack Cook, WHOI Graphics
» View Video (Media Player)

Tracking Warm Eddies in a Cold Sea
The formation of warm eddies in the Irminger Sea
Jack Cook, WHOI Graphics
» View Video (Media Player) DSL/Cable Modem

Commotion in the Ocean
A presentation on February 28, 2007
Boston Museum of Science
» View Video (Media Player)

Related Links

» Irminger Rings Project Homepage

Impact of Irminger Rings on Deep Convection in the Labrador Sea

Deep ocean convection is limited to a small number of isolated regions worldwide, including the Labrador Sea, but it has a profound impact on the ocean’s thermohaline circulation and climate.  While the convection process itself has been studied intensively over the last decade , the restratification of the water column after convection, which will directly impact convection during subsequent winters, is not as well-studied.

It has recently been suggested that the decay of coherent, long-lived, anticyclonic eddies shed from a surrounding warm boundary current are potentially important in restratifying convection regions. This idea is most developed in the Labrador Sea, where anticyclonic eddies containing a core of warm, salty water from the Irminger Current (a remnant of the Gulf Stream) have been observed. 

The goal of the proposed research is to advance our understanding of the role of Irminger Rings in deep convection by collecting new information on their initial structure and on the evolution of their core properties as they propagate across the Labrador Sea. To meet this goal, we plan to deploy one densely instrumented mooring in the northeastern Labrador Sea near, but offshore of the eddy formation site to document the full water column hydrographic and velocity structure of about 12 new rings where they detach from the boundary and enter the interior. The mooring will also serve as the “launch pad” for the automatic release of a profiling float each time an eddy sweeps by the mooring. Trapped within the eddies by the strong azimuthal velocities, the floats will track the eddy trajectories and measure changes in eddy core properties as they move from the formation site toward the convection region.  When this research program is completed, we will have unprecedented information on the structure and heat and salt content of nascent Irminger Rings that have separated from the boundary, improved estimates of the heat and freshwater fluxes associated with rings, and new information on where and how their anomalous core properties are spread within the Labrador Sea.


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Last updated August 29, 2007
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