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Aux frontières du Gulf Stream

Balades en LAS, 29 décembre 2009

Le Gulf Stream circule dans l'Océan Atlantique nord, il est l'un des grands courants de bord ouest et participe à l'équilibre thermique de la Terre en transportant la chaleur de l'équateur vers les pôles.

À la bordure nord du Gulf Stream, là où les gyres tropicale et polaire se rencontrent, les échanges de chaleur sont maximum. Le courant du Labrador (Labrador current, LC), appartenant à la gyre polaire, est un courant froid issu des courants arctiques. Sa rencontre contrastée avec des eaux plus chaudes, sur les hauts-fonds de Terre-Neuve, crée des bancs de brumes souvent redoutés des pêcheurs. Ces eaux chaudes appartiennent à une branche septentrionale du Gulf Stram, le courant nord-Atlantique (North Atlantic Current, NAC).

Sur une section longitudinale, à la bordure septentrionale du Gulf Stream (47°N), le contraste entre ces deux courants est nettement visible sur les valeurs de hauteurs de topographie dynamique : un saut de plus de 1 m est observé entre 43°W et 39°W, à la date du 19 novembre 2008.

 

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