WaveChasers in the Samoan Passage
Detailed view of the flow through the Samoan Passage
About 25 Safeco fields full of water flow through the narrow passage every second, so it's a tremendously important part of the ocean
The Samoan Passage, 5500 m beneath the sea surface, is one of the "choke points" in the abyssal circulation. A veritable river of Antarctic Bottom water flows through it on its way into the North Pacific. As it enters the constriction, substantial turbulence, hydraulic processes and internal waves must occur - which modify the water.
Since climate models do not do a good job of resolving flows like these, we will take our stable of instruments - moored profilers, conventional current meter moorings, shipboard instruments - and measure the velocity, turbulence, and internal waves in the region. The overall goal is to understand these deep processes and the way they impact the flow, and to develop a strategy for eventually monitoring the flow through the Passage.
"I'm at sea on an exciting cruise in the South Pacific" says Matthew Alford, UW Oceanographer. "We're using state-of-the-art instruments developed at APL to get an incredibly detailed view of the abyssal flows and turbulence through the Samoan Passage, a vital part of the ocean circulation". "About 25 Safeco fields full of water flow through the narrow passage every second, so it's a tremendously important part of the ocean".