Scientists discover a giant tropical water mass in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean

For starters, there’s not much water.

Sure, the world’s oceans are full of monsters, wonders, and mysteries, but otherwise they’re just vast, fluid expanses of liquid. right?

mistake.

Far from being uniform everywhere, ocean water is a mixture of interconnected layers and masses that mix and divide thanks to currents, eddies, and changes in temperature or salinity.

Indeed, beneath the surfaces of our great seas, there are waterfalls, Rivers And even giant blobs, extending thousands of miles, that somehow managed to evade detection.

Now, scientists have discovered one of these huge blobs in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean; It extends from the tip of Brazil to the Gulf of Guinea.

Until the discovery of this body of water – which was called the Atlantic Equatorial Waters – experts had seen water mixing along the equator in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, but never in the Atlantic.

“It seems controversial that the equatorial water mass is present in the Pacific and Indian Oceans but is missing in the Atlantic because equatorial circulation and mixing in the three oceans have common features,” says Victor Zorbas, a physicist and oceanographer at the Shirshov Institute of Physics. Oceanographer in Moscow said Live sciences.

“The new identified water mass allowed us to complete (or at least describe more accurately) the phenotype of the basic water masses in the World Ocean.”

Ocean water is a mixture of interconnected layers and masses that mix and divide iStock

As the name suggests, Atlantic tropical waters are formed by mixing bodies of water separated by currents along the equator.

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To distinguish these masses from the surrounding waters, oceanographers analyze the relationship between temperature and salinity across the ocean, which determines the density of seawater.

Back in 1942, this graph of temperature and salinity led to the discovery of tropical waters in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Live sciences Notes.

Because they arise from the mixing of waters from the north and south, the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific share similar temperatures and salinities that curve along lines of constant density, making them easy to distinguish from the surrounding waters.

However, for many years, it was not possible to observe such a relationship in the Atlantic Ocean.

However, thanks to data collected by the Argo program – an international group of automated, self-submersing buoys installed across the Earth’s oceans – researchers discovered an unremarkable temperature and salinity curve that lies parallel to the waters of the North Atlantic and the central South Atlantic.

Those tropical Atlantic waters were out of reach.

“It was easy to confuse tropical Atlantic waters with the central waters of the South Atlantic, and in order to distinguish between them it was necessary to have a fairly dense grid of vertical temperatures and salinities covering the entire Atlantic Ocean,” Zorbas explained in his email. to Live sciences.

The discovery is important because it provides experts with a better understanding of how the oceans mix, which is vital for how heat, oxygen and nutrients are transported around the world.

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