UK & World News

  • 5 May 2014, 14:03

Hypnotic Nasa Video Shows Ocean Currents

The Earth's churning ocean currents can be seen in impressive detail in a new visualisation released by Nasa.

Satellite information and sea-level observations were combined with some clever number-crunching to create the animation, which shows oceans flows from July 2005 to December 2007.

Powerful currents such as the Gulf Stream - which helps boost Europe's temperature - can be seen starting off the Florida coast, snaking up the east coast of America before crossing the Atlantic.

Another warming current, the Kuroshio, can be seen beginning off Taiwan and flowing northeastwards, past Japan, at speeds of more than 4mph.

Some of the currents span thousands of miles, says Nasa, while others are confined to certain regions and form slow-moving, circular pools.

The visualisation was created by Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center, and is based on a joint project between the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"These model-data syntheses are among the largest computations of their kind ever undertaken... (it) offers a realistic study in both the order and the chaos of the circulating waters that populate Earth's ocean," says Nasa.

The study is designed to help understanding of concepts like the ocean's role in the carbon cycle and changes in the polar seas.