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Giant ocean whirlpools puzzle scientists



                                                                      Naruto Whirlpool                               Sendai, Japan March 11, 2011

US scientists discovered two giant whirlpools in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Guyana and Suriname. It became a sensational discovery because this part of the ocean has been studied thoroughly, and no one expected anything like that to appear in the area. More importantly, no one can understand where the whirlpools came from and what surprises they may bring to people. We reported earlier about two whirpools (Huge Ocean ‘Frisbees’ Whirl Off Brazil Coast) of Brazil coast. Two scientist, William Johns and Guilherme Castelão detailed their findings online Jan. 11 in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans.

This funnels rotate clockwise and they are moving in the ocean. 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 appears that 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.

These rings play a key role in global climate as well, transporting ocean heat from the equator northward and eventually feeding into the Gulf Stream system. Even during the dry months the funnels do not disappear. Scientists concluded that the nature of the funnels does not depend on the flow of water, which one of the world’s biggest rivers brings into the ocean. The natural phenomenon, which creates the whirlpools, is unknown to modern science.

As a matter of fact, the phenomenon of giant whirlpools in the World Ocean is not new to science. In most cases, the craters, or rings, as scientists call them, are formed as a result of so-called vertical currents. The latter, in their turn, appear because of differences in water density which appear because of difference in temperatures of water layers. It is an open secret that cold water is thicker and heavier, so it goes down, underneath the masses of warm water, which is lighter. This is the reason why warm currents in the World Ocean always flow closer to the surface, whereas colder currents flow closer to the bottom. (Scientists Use Satellites to Help Detect Deep-Ocean Whirlpools)

Whirlpools are ocean currents that move in a rotating direction, produced by rising and falling tides. Some of these exhibit a downward pull, called a vortex. One of the most famous whirlpools is the Maelstrom located near the Lofoten Islands, off the coast of Norway. The word comes from the Dutch for ‘whirling stream’. This is caused by a strong channel about 8km (5 miles) wide that travels through the islands of Moskensøya and Mosken. The currents can reach speeds of 11km/h (7mph) with the changing tides. Others occur on the Strait of Corryvreckan (between Scarba and Jura, off the west coast of Scotland), along the coast of Calabria in southern Italy and off Messina, in the strait between Sicily and peninsular Italy. A vortex occurs in the Naruto Strait, which connects the Inland Sea (Japan) and the Pacific Ocean.

Old Sow is the name of the largest tidal whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere located off the southwestern shore of Deer Island, New Brunswick, Canada between that island and Moose Island, the principal island of Eastport, Maine. The whirlpool is caused by local bathymetry and extreme tidal range where waters exchange between Passamaquoddy Bay and the Bay of Fundy, combined with the unusual topography of the location’s sea floor at the confluence of the numerous local currents.

The Naruto whirlpools are tidal whirlpools in the Naruto Strait, a channel between Naruto in Tokushima and Awaji Island in Hyōgo, Japan.
The strait between Naruto and Awaji island has a width of about 1.3 km (0.81 miles). The strait is one of the connections between the Pacific Ocean and the Inland Sea, a body of water separating Honshū and Shikoku, two of the main islands of Japan.

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