Satellites help find deep ocean whirlpools

March 21, 2006

An international team of scientists says they've developed a method of using satellites to peer beneath of ocean's surface to study underwater currents.

Using sensor data from several U.S. and European satellites, researchers from the University of Delaware, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Ocean University of China have developed a method to detect super-salty, submerged eddies called "Meddies" that occur in the Atlantic Ocean off Spain and Portugal at depths of more than a half mile.

Such warm, deep-water whirlpools are part of the ocean's complex circulatory system, and help drive the ocean currents that moderate Earth's climate.

The research marks the first time scientists have been able to detect phenomena so deep in the oceans from space, using a new multi-sensor technique that can track changes in ocean salinity.

The initial results of the project are reported in the April issue of the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Physical Oceanography.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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