Hurricanes Cause Open Ocean Cold Water Upwelling

As the hurricanes move through the ocean, they each leave a wake of cold water as a result of process called cold water upwelling; cold water from the bottom of the ocean being drawn to the surface.  This visualization shows the cold water trails left by Hurricanes Fabian and Isabel in 2003. The red/orange/blue colors represent the ocean temperatures (orange/red is 82 degrees F and higher).
Since cold water upwelling usually occurs along the coasts as a result of ocean currents and wind hitting the continental shelf, Cold water upwelling in the open ocean has the ability to change climate patterns by altering how energy is dissipated and absorbed by weather systems as they move towards land. Upwelling also has an ecologically dynamic effect; drawing nutrient rich-water to the surface.

 

This graphic shows how displaced surface waters are replaced by cold, nutrient-rich water that “wells up” from below.

This graphic shows how displaced surface waters are replaced by cold, nutrient-rich water that “wells up” from below.

Story Credits

Visualizers/Animators:
Greg Shirah (NASA/GSFC) (Lead)
Alex Kekesi (GST)
Jesse Allen (Raytheon)
Marte Newcombe (GST)
Stuart A. Snodgrass (GST)
Kevin Mahoney (CSC)Scientist:
J. Marshall Shepherd (NASA/GSFC)

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