Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. 24/7 Space News .




WATER WORLD
How ocean currents affect global climate is a question oceanographer may be close to answering
by Elizabeth Bettendorf for FSU News
Tallahassee FL (SPX) Aug 28, 2012


Kevin Speer.

Kevin Speer has a "new paradigm" for describing how the world's oceans circulate - and with it he may help reshape science's understanding of the processes by which wind, water, sunlight and other factors interact and influence the planet's climate. A Florida State University professor of oceanography with a passion for teaching, Speer and a colleague recently published a significant paper in the respected journal Nature Geoscience.

Working with John Marshall, an oceanography professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Speer reviewed - or essentially synthesized - vast amounts of previous data on ocean circulation (including their own earlier papers). As a result, they have created what Speer calls a new paradigm in the study of ocean currents on a global scale.

Here's how it works: Basically, the oceans, together with the atmosphere, rebalance heat on the planet. The sun shines on the Earth and heats up the tropics more than the poles. Near the poles, the ocean is cold and the water sinks; near the equator, the surface of the ocean is inviting and warm - and floats on top of the colder deep water.

So the question is this: Where does the water that goes down come back up?

Speer, Marshall and other oceanographers now believe that it comes back up in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica - not as much in the warm oceans as had been previously thought.

"We're not saying that nothing comes up in the rest of the World Ocean, just that the main thrust is in the Southern Ocean," Speer said. "To a large extent it's driven by the wind."

Very strong winds, to be precise.

In the rough waters around Antarctica, sailors call those winds the "Roaring Forties" and the "Furious Fifties." They originate near the Equator, where hot air rises and then is pushed toward the North and South poles by cooler air that rushes in to take its place.

The resulting "eddy-driven upwelling" in the Southern Ocean, as Speer characterizes it, may in fact describe the most important process to date that helps scientists understand the role of the ocean and climate.

Speer, who holds a doctorate in physical oceanography from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program, spent years living in France as an oceanographic researcher for a French governmental agency. (Yes, he's fluent in French.)

Today, from his office in the basement of the Keen Building on the Florida State campus, Speer serves as interim director of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute, a warren of intriguing, 1960s-era laboratories just a few steps outside his door. It is there that Speer helps students and postdoctoral researchers learn about how climate works.

The laboratory's equipment includes a large, vintage rotating table designed nearly a half-century ago by the lab's founder, Florida State meteorology Professor Richard Pfeffer. (The device may be old, but it's one of the biggest and best in the United States, Speer says). Here students can recreate the ocean's churning and study natural phenomena such as the Antarctic circumpolar current.

Speer and his students have been studying ocean currents thanks to $2.5 million in funding from a larger $10 million National Science Foundation grant that FSU shares with eight other universities and institutions worldwide. Research has included releasing tracers and floats into the ocean to study the mixing and spreading of currents.

One of Speer's graduate students, Druv Balwada, recently took part in a joint U.S.-United Kingdom research program to study ocean currents aboard a ship in the Southern Ocean. To view the cruise blog of the nearly three-month voyage, visit http://dimesuk3.blogspot.com/.

"Our students learn and help in various ways," Speer said. "They certainly help generate some interesting and lively oceanographic research.

Speer and Marshall's Nature Geoscience paper is titled "Closure of the Meridional Overturning Circulation Through Southern Ocean Upwelling." To read an abstract or purchase the paper, click here.

.


Related Links
Florida State University
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





WATER WORLD
Finland leads major counter-pollution drill in Baltic Sea
Helsinki (AFP) Aug 27, 2012
Finland on Monday led one of the biggest counter-pollution drills on the Baltic Sea, involving 70 vessels in the exercise. The drill simulates a collision between two vessels in Finnish waters at 21 nautical miles (39 kilometres) off Helsinki, with wind and currents moving 15,000 tonnes of crude oil towards Finland's southern coast. The exercise is primarily aimed at testing the ability ... read more


WATER WORLD
Apollo 11 capsule stirs Neil Armstrong memories, tributes

Signing out: Armstrong autographs under hammer

Tributes pour in for 'man on the moon' Armstrong

Neil Armstrong: First man on the moon

WATER WORLD
NASA likens Mars rover to Armstrong lunar landmark

Chemcam Laser First Analyzes Yield Beautiful Results

NASA's Mars rover makes first test drive

First Words of Safe Landing on Mars - Tango Delta Nominal

WATER WORLD
Space race, on a budget, was not how Armstrong saw it

Research and Technology Studies 2012

Singer Sarah Brightman could be next space tourist: report

Sarah Brightman In Talks Over Space Trip

WATER WORLD
China eyes next lunar landing as US scales back

China unveils ambitious space projects

Is China Going to Blast Past America in Space?

Hong Kong people share joy of China's manned space program

WATER WORLD
Europe's ATV-3 Space Freighter Raises ISS Orbit to 420 km

Russia's ISS Crew Members Complete Spacewalk

Sierra Nevada Supports Communications Experiment on ISS

Space station orbit successfully adjusted

WATER WORLD
NASA Administrator Announces New Commercial Crew And Cargo Milestones

Ariane 5s are on the move for Arianespace's upcoming missions

Readying the "boost" for Galileo satellites on Arianespace's next Soyuz mission at the Space

ASTRA 2F touches down in French Guiana for Arianespace's next Ariane 5 dual-passenger mission

WATER WORLD
Search for alien life gets boost at twin star

First Evidence Discovered of Planet's Destruction by Its Star

Exoplanet hosting stars give further insights on planet formation

Five Potential Habitable Exoplanets Now

WATER WORLD
Samsung vows 'all measures' to keep products in US

'Frankenstein' computer program created

Southampton physicists join search for hidden magnetic states

Is This Real or Just Fantasy? ONR Augmented-Reality Initiative Progresses




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement