June 28: Put a Ring on it

Lets talk about Warm Core Rings , the very important R in SIRATES. Rings,  also referred to as eddies, are typically formed off a Gulf Stream meander. When the Gulf Stream detaches from the coast it begins to wiggle, when a large wiggle occurs it can pinch of and form a ring as pictured in the animation below. The rings that pinch off to the north are called Warm Core Rings due to the core of warm water from the Sargasso Sea. There are also rings that pinch off to the south with a cold slope water core called Cold Core Rings.

Once detached from the Gulf Stream, these rings move westward through the slope where they can hit the continental shelf. This is where rings become important for this project, transporting the  the warm salty water that form the salinity intrusions northward onto the shelf.

In our current study area an interesting phenomena is happening. Not only is there a warm anticyclonic (clockwise) ring against the shelf, there is an adjacent cyclonic (counter clockwise) ring to the southwest. This ring pair feature is called a mushroom, and is fairly uncommon this close to the shelf. It is thought that these rings might be working together to help strengthening the intrusions’ northward flow over the shelf.


Sea surface temperature from June 18th marked to show the anticyclonic and cyclonic rings. The X marks our study area.



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