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Gulf Stream Update, March 2011

March 10, 2011, by Ken Jorgustin

gulf-stream-march-2011

We have received a number of emails inquiring about the current state of the Gulf Stream conveyor. There had been (and still is) a great deal of concern regarding the health of the Gulf Stream following the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico where more than 5 million barrels of oil and an enormous amount of the chemical dispersant, Corexit, was ejected into the sea.

We put together the image above, which illustrates the ‘normal’ flow of the Gulf Stream and ocean conveyor as indicated by the RED arrows (surface current) and the PURPLE arrows (deep current), on top of an image obtained from the NOAA Ocean Prediction Center NCOM model for this date.

It appears that the Gulf Stream ocean currents are fairly on track up until half-way across the Atlantic Ocean. At that point, it appears that the NOAA image does not reveal much of any surface current flow up to the expected region north of the United Kingdom. Not saying it doesn’t exist, but as you can see for yourself, it’s not apparent like it is off of the east coast U.S.

There does appear to be surface current swirling at the location where the Gulf Stream typically dives down deep on its return trip, just north of the UK, but that’s about it.

Also, the Gulf Stream typically sends a branch to the northwest, just¬† midway across the Atlantic Ocean towards Greenland, which then dives down deep and returns with the deep flow originating north of the UK. There appears to be some swirling currents at the ‘branch’, but that’s all that is visible.



atlantic-ocean-temperatures-march-2011

The image above shows the sea surface temperature of the Atlantic Ocean as of this date. The warm water of the Gulf Stream is obvious immediately off the east coast U.S. as it turns eastward on it’s attempted journey northeast across the Atlantic.

Temperatures diminish as it travels further (as would be expected as it flows north), and the boundary between the dark blue (cold) and light blue (not as cold) is clearly visible.



The conclusion from this simple observation is that the Gulf Stream is still flowing. Some may say it has lost some of it’s gusto, or intensity, about halfway across the Atlantic Ocean. On the contrary, it may be a somewhat normal observation for this time of year.

This is not an attempt at an expert conclusion, instead we are simply pointing out publicly available data for your own viewing pleasure.




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