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Ocean Gyres - New Study on Ocean Gyres

written by: Summer Banks•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 10/16/2008

A hurricane underwater is the perfect description of the ocean gyre. The gyre is a spinning whirlpool of water in the ocean that traps waste, pollution and changes the worlds temperature as we know it.

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    What is an Ocean Gyre?

    An ocean gyre can be defined as a spiral ocean current. These currents are located at approximately 30 degrees north and south latitude in all oceans. Smaller gyres can be found around the 50 degree north latitude in the Northern Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

    Without gyres, the air temperature from pole to pole would be much more extreme.

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    How Do Gyres Affect Temperature?

    Many people will recognize the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic as the primary gyre on Earth. This gyre collects and moves heated air into the regions of Europe. When measuring the affect of the gyre, the temperatures of Portugal versus Nova Scotia can be taken into consideration. Both Portugal and Nova Scotia are located along the same latitudinal plane, but Portugal is much warmer thanks to the heated air produced by the gyre. Where as the absence of this effect results in the cooler temperatures found in Nova Scotia.

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    The Natural Water / Air Flow Interrupted

    The trouble with gyre detection is their ability to pass under the traditional methods of measuring. The more gyres that pop up in the oceans, the more change in local climates and water climates may occur. In order to keep track of the gyres and their effect on the environment an Australian and German team proposes using the Lagrangian analysis, a mathematical formula, to detect the evading gyres.

    The Lagrangian analysis allows the team to examine all possible water movements and currents in the ocean. Once the data is collected, the team can decipher which areas of the ocean are most likely to meet the needs of a forming gyre. Using this method, the team was able to detect gyres in the waters off Antarctica that were previously unnoted.

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    Future Studies on Gyres

    The team hopes to use the same method of data analysis to investigate the effects of gyres on and by global warming, climate change and the fast declining marine life.

    Recent updates to the "Red List", the world handbook on the diminishing animal and plant species on Earth, brings new light to the need for future research into the causes of extinction both on land and in the ocean. (Click here to read more about the biodiversity loss and the updated Red List)