An international team has discovered a previously unrecognized ocean current that transports water to one of the world’s largest “waterfalls” in the North Atlantic Ocean: the Faroese canal flows into the deep North Atlantic. Exploring the paths that water takes to feed this great waterfall, the research team identified an amazing path of cold and thick water flowing to the depths that led to the discovery of this new ocean current.
“This new ocean current and the path it takes to the Faroese canal are fascinating,” said Leon Chafik, lead author of an article published in The nature of communications and researcher at Stockholm University, Sweden.
“The two discoveries reported here, in one of the world’s best-studied areas of the ocean, are a table reminder that we still have a lot to learn about the North Seas,” said co-author Thomas Rossby, a graduate of URI Oceanography. “This is important given the absolutely fundamental role they play in major glacial-interglacial climate fluctuations.”
Previous research on this deep stream has long suggested that these cold waters, which flow along the northern slope of the Faroe Islands, turn directly into the Faroese-Shetland Canal (the region through which water flows to reach the Faroese Canal). Instead, Chafik and co-authors of the newspaper show that there is another way to the Faroe-Shetland Canal. They show that water can travel a long way to the mainland outside of Norway before returning south to this large waterfall. “Identifying this newly discovered path from existing observations was not an easy process and took us a long time to get together,” Chafik said.
The researchers also found that this new path depends on the prevailing wind conditions. “It seems that the circulation of the atmosphere plays a major role in streamlining certain flow regimes,” Chafik added.
Further research reveals that much of the water that enters the Faroese Canal is not actually transported along the western side of the Faroese-Shetland Canal (the region through which water flows to reach the Faroese Canal), as previously thought. Instead, most of this water comes from the eastern part of the Faroese-Shetland Canal, where it is transported by jet and deep ocean currents. “It was an interesting but very exciting conclusion, especially since we know that there is a very similar flow structure in the Danish Strait. We are pleased to have been able to identify this new ocean current both by observations and by a high-resolution general ocean. circulation model, “Chafik said.
“Because this recently opened flow path and ocean current play an important role in ocean circulation at higher latitudes, its discovery complements our limited understanding of overturned circulation in the Atlantic Ocean,” Chafik said. “This discovery would not have been possible without many institutional efforts over the years.”
Image: Faroe Islands as Copernicus Sentinel-2
Leon Chafik et al., Discovery of an unrecognized path leading to overflow waters to the Faroese canal, The nature of communications (2020). DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-020-17426-8
Provided by the University of Rhode Island
Citation: A new current that transports water to the main “waterfall” was discovered in the deep ocean (2020, July 30), received on July 30, 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-07-current-major- waterfall-deep-ocean. html
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