Giant Ocean Whirlpools off South Americas Atlantic Coast

Source: SeaCurrents

by Claudio Paschoa

Two scientists, William Jones and Guilherme Castellane discovered two giant whirlpools in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Guyana and Suriname. No can really explain exactly how these whirlpools were formed even though the area in question had previously been comprehensively mapped. The two funnels are approximately 400 kilometers in diameter. Until now whirlpools of this size were not known on Earth. The funnels may exert a strong influence on climate changes that have been registered during the recent years. “Funnels rotate clockwise. They are moving in the ocean like giant frisbees, two discs thrown into the air. Rotation occurs at a rate of one meter per second, the speed is sufficiently large compared to the speed of oceanic currents, on the border hoppers is a wave-step height of 40 cm,” Castellane said. Just northwest of Brazil, winds drive part of the North Brazil Current eastward along the equator. Every now and then, this turn is especially sharp and the current loops around. The looping action pinches off a huge clockwise-spinning disk of warm water that travels northwest like a Frisbee moves through air. Although scientists have known about these “current rings” for decades, knowledge of even their basic details such as size, speed, depth and rate of spin was limited. It is not ruled out that the reason for the appearance of the whirlpools off the coast of South America is the same as in smaller whirlpools detected in other parts of the World Ocean. Scientists are currently studying the influence of those giant funnels on the climate of Latin America and Africa. Such whirlpools show influence on the atmosphere and form cyclonical air mass. They can also affect the movement of air mass formed in other places. For the time being, scientists do not know how the newly discovered water craters can affect the climate of Central and South Americas. There is also concern for dangers to navigation in the area.

Claudio Paschoa – Various sources, including the Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans.