Researchers Study Impact Of Ocean Eddies On Weather and Climate

Posted: July 9, 2013  |  By: redOrbit

Meteorologists have long been aware of the impact that large ocean currents have on the Earth’s climate, but new research suggests smaller, swirling motions known as eddies can also have an impact on weather.

In research appearing in the journal Nature Geoscience, scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) say these eddies typically arise due to the turbulence of ocean currents. A large number of these phenomena exist in each of the oceans at any time, with diameters of approximately 100 kilometers, according to the study authors.

Post-doctoral researcher Ivy Frenger and her colleagues analyzed satellite data in order to discover what impact these eddies had on the overlying atmosphere. They focused primarily in the Southern hemisphere, where eddies tend to be more common.

The ETH Zurich team was able to collect data on more than 600,000 transient eddies over the course of a decade. They compiled the data on those eddies and compared them to the corresponding overlying wind, cloud and precipitation data – information that had also been collected via satellite.

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