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On the borders of the Gulf Stream

Lively Data, December 29, 2009

The Gulf Stream flows in the Atlantic Ocean and it is the one of the world's biggest western boundary current. It rebalances the Earth's heat budget by transporting heat from the equator to the poles.

On the northern boundary of the Gulf Stream, where the subtropical and subpolar gyres meet together, the exchanges of heat are maximum. The Labrador Current (LC), belongs to the subpolar gyre, is a cold current which flows from the Arctic Ocean. Its constrasted meeting with the warmer waters, on the Great Bank off Newfounland, produces heavy banks of mist often feared by fishermen. These warmer waters belongs to the northern branch of the Gulf Stream, the North Atlantic Current (NAC).

Along a longitudinal section, at the northern border of the Gulf Stream (47°N), the contrast between the LC and the NAC is easily shown with the dynamic topography heights: a jump of more one meter is observed between 43°W and 39°W, on 2008/11/19.


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