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Images: A Mooring Built to Survive the Irminger Sea

Researchers tested a experimental buoy that they hoped could withstand fierce winter winds and waves in the Irminger Sea. (Photo by Dan Torres, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

This bottom part of a slack mooring is designed to have an "S" shape?a bit of slack that absorbs the cyclic loading on the mooring, as the surface buoy heaves in the waves. (Note: Illustration is not drawn to scale.) (Illustration by E. Paul Oberlander, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The Greenland tip jet is a sporadic, low-level atmospheric jet stream characterized by fierce winds on the lee side of Cape Farewell on the southern tip of Greenland. As storms pass through from the southwest, high-level winds descend the glacial slopes on the eastern side of Greenland, accelerating as they drop down over the ocean. In the process, they draw cold air into a relatively small area over the southern Irminger Sea. This phenomenon appears to play a critical role in chilling North Atlantic waters so that they sink to great depths and drive part of the global ocean circulation and climate system. (Illustration by E. Paul Oberlander, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Using NOAA's QuikSCAT satellite, MIT/WHOI Joint Program graduate student Kjetil V?ge compiled this image of a tip jet on Dec. 5, 2002, with winds speeds up to 37 meters per second (or 72 knots). Arrows indicate wind direction. White dot is location of Irminger Sea buoy. (Kjetil V?ge, MIT/WHOI Joint Program)