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Underwater gliders provide high-resolution observations in the Gulf Stream


A paper explaining CPO-supported research with underwater Spray gliders appeared in Geophysical Research Letters. Spray gliders provide high-resolution observations along the U.S. East Coast, monitoring a major mechanism moving ocean heat into the high latitudes known as the Gulf Stream. Similar surveys will enable a robust and accurate climatology of the Gulf Stream. Glider observations could also complement Argo program coverage. Spray gliders are supported by the CPO Ocean Observing and Monitoring Division.   Read the paper:

Todd R.E. (2017), High-frequency internal waves and thick bottom mixed layers observed by gliders in the Gulf Stream, Geophys. Res. Lett., 44, doi:10.1002/2017GL072580.


Autonomous underwater gliders are conducting high-resolutions surveys within the Gulf Stream along the U.S. East Coast. Glider surveys reveal two mechanisms by which energy is extracted from the Gulf Stream as it flows over the Blake Plateau, a portion of the outer continental shelf between Florida and North Carolina where bottom depths are less than 1000 m. Internal waves with vertical velocities exceeding 0.1 m s−1 and frequencies just below the local buoyancy frequency are routinely found over the Blake Plateau, particularly near the Charleston Bump, a prominent topographic feature. These waves are likely internal lee waves generated by the sub-inertial Gulf Stream flow over the irregular bathymetry of the outer continental shelf. Bottom mixed layers with O(100) m thickness are also frequently encountered; these thick bottom mixed layers likely form in the lee of topography due to enhanced turbulence generated by O(1) m s−1 near-bottom flows.

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