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Gigantic "Missing" Body Of Water Discovered Stretching Across The Atlantic Ocean

It's always in the last place you look.

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

James is a published author with four pop-history and science books to his name. He specializes in history, strange science, and anything out of the ordinary.

Senior Staff Writer

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A small patch of the Atlantic Ocean.

A small portion of the Atlantic Ocean.

Image credit: Chris F via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A team of researchers believe they have found a previously unidentified gigantic mass of water in the Atlantic Ocean.

Within oceans, there are different bodies of water with their own distinct physical properties (such as temperature, salinity, formation history, and chemical makeup). For instance, think of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and the better known Gulf Stream

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In the Pacific and Indian Oceans, back in 1942, scientists found huge areas of water distinct from the surrounding areas. Known as equatorial waters, these gigantic distinctive blobs were formed due to the mixing of waters to the north and south of them. 

"It seems astonishing that the Equatorial Water mass presents in the Pacific and Indian oceans but is missing in the Atlantic Ocean," the team wrote in the study, "because the equatorial circulation and mixing in all three oceans have common features such as the equatorial undercurrent and the equatorial waves."

The team looked at data from the Argo program, which uses a fleet of robotic instruments to measure data about the oceans as they float and sink and drift along it, bobbing up and down between surface and mid-level in the water. 

Within the data, the team found the area that they argue is a distinct body of water, which they dubbed the Atlantic Equatorial Water, most likely formed by the mixing of the South Atlantic Central Water and the North Atlantic Central Water. According to the team, the body of water stretches from the tip of Brazil all the way to the Gulf of Guinea.

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"The identified new water mass has allowed us to complete (or at least more accurately describe) the phenomenological pattern of basic water masses of the World Ocean," lead author Viktor Zhurbas added to Live Science.

Further study of the area will hopefully lead to better understanding of ocean mixing processes. 

The study is published in Geophysical Research Letters.


ARTICLE POSTED IN

natureNature
  • tag
  • water,

  • Atlantic Ocean,

  • oceans,

  • geophysics

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