Newly discovered ocean current as an oceanic fast lane

Deep-sea electricity transports enormous amounts of water from the Antarctic to the north

The newly discovered deep current runs east of the Kergulen plateau © NOAA
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Eight million cubic meters of water per second are transported by a newly discovered ocean current in the Southern Ocean. As Japanese researchers report in "Nature Geoscience", the current flowing east of the Kerguelen Plateau brings very cold deep water from deep Antarctic waters to the north and achieves a record-breaking production volume.

The Kerguelen Plateau is located about 3, 000 kilometers west of Australia in the south of the Indian Ocean. 110 million years ago, a continent formed by volcanic eruptions has long since sunk, forming a vast deep-sea plateau about one to two kilometers deep. Now, oceanographers at Hokkaido University in Japan have discovered a previously unknown ocean current on the eastern edge of this plateau.

Deep water from the Antarctic "groundwater"

For their study, Yasushi Fukamachi and his colleagues had deposited flow meters in deep water at the eastern edge of the plateau for two years. It turned out that only 50 kilometers wide, but strong current transported cold deep water to the north. The water has its origin in the so-called Antarctic groundwater, the densest and deepest body of water, which is involved in the global ocean circulation. This only about 0.2 ° C water reservoir plays an important role in the marine heat exchange processes.

Eight million cubic meters per second

The flow measurements revealed that the new discovered current of this deep water to the north flows unusually fast: the measuring devices recorded an average of eight million cubic meters per second - which is four times that of previously determined for another branch of the Antarctic outflow. Thus, this new Kerguelen-Nordstrom is the fastest and strongest, which has been proven at depths below 3, 000 meters.

The new current is not only interesting for oceanographers, but also for climate research, this powerful "conveyor belt" of cold water plays an important role, as it provides temperature compensation in the global seas. display

(Nature, 26.04.2010 - NPO)