The Ocean Conveyor


Study Finds No Direct Link Between North Atlantic Ocean Currents, Sea Level Along New England Coast

A new study by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) clarifies what influence major currents in the North Atlantic have on sea level along the northeastern United States. The study, published June 13 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, examined both the strength of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)—a conveyor belt of currents that move warmer waters north and cooler waters south in the Atlantic—and historical records of sea level in coastal New England.

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Waters West of Europe Drive Ocean Overturning, Key for Regulating Climate

Waters West of Europe Drive Ocean Overturning, Key for Regulating Climate

In the Atlantic MOC, warm, salty, shallow waters are carried northward from the tropics by currents and wind, and then converted into colder, fresher, deep waters that return southward through the Iceland and Irminger basins. In a departure from the prevailing scientific view, the study shows that most of the conversion from warm to cold water – or ‘overturning’™ and its month-to-month variability – ”is occurring in regions between Greenland and Scotland, rather than in the Labrador Sea off Canada, as many past modeling studies have suggested.

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The long memory of the Pacific Ocean

The long memory of the Pacific Ocean

Researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Harvard University have found that the deep Pacific Ocean lags a few centuries behind in terms of temperature and is still adjusting to the entry into the Little Ice Age. Whereas most of the ocean is responding to modern warming, the deep Pacific may be cooling.

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A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Ocean

A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Ocean

Like someone monitoring the traffic flow on a road system, MIT-WHOI Joint Program graduate student Sam Levang is examining the flow of the ocean’s global circulation, which has big impacts of our climate.

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Atlantic Ocean Circulation at Weakest Point in 1,600 years

Atlantic Ocean Circulation at Weakest Point in 1,600 years

Atlantic Ocean Circulation at Weakest Point in More Than 1500 years New research led by University College London (UCL) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) provides evidence that a key cog in the global ocean circulation system hasn’t been running at peak strength since the mid-1800s and is currently at its weakest point in the past 1,600 years. If the system continues to weaken, it could disrupt weather patterns from the United States and Europe to the African Sahel, and cause more rapid increase in sea level on the U.S. East Coast.

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How moored profilers work

Moored profilers travel up and down a mooring cable every five days, measuring seawater properties. (Animation by Jack Cook, Woods Hole…

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Ice, Wind & Fury

Ice, Wind & Fury

Greenlanders are well away of piteraqs, the hazardous torrents of cold air that sweep down off the ice cap. But scientists are just beginning to unravel how and when piteraqs form.

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Detours on the Oceanic Highway

Detours on the Oceanic Highway

WHOI graduate student Isabela Le Bras is exploring newly discovered complexities of the Deep Western Boundary Current, a major artery in the global ocean circulation system that transports cold water south from the North Atlantic.

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