Ocean Currents

Ocean currents—large and small, fast and slow, shallow and deep—transport water within and across the world ocean in an ever-changing fashion. To capture all of the action and decipher the complex dynamics involved in the ocean’s physical movement, both long-term and detailed measurements are needed.

At a location 25 kilometers southeast of Bermuda called Hydrostation 'S,' measurements of the ocean’s physical properties (including temperature, salinity, and pressure) from the ocean surface to approximately 3000 meters depth are acquired every two weeks. Established in 1954, Hydrostation 'S' is the longest-running dataset of its kind in the world.

Complementing these long-standing ship-based measurement programs, the Mid-Atlantic Glider Initiative and Collaboration (MAGIC) utilizes autonomous underwater vehicles to carry out detailed surveys of the ocean that can resolve small-scale eddy features. Established in 2014, MAGIC currently has three gliders in its fleet, capable of acquiring continuous measurements of the ocean to depths of 1000 meters for months at a time.

The Oleander Project began in 1992 as an effort to routinely acquire high-resolution, upper-ocean velocity and temperature measurements utilizing M/V Oleander, a container vessel makes a weekly round-trip passage along the 1200 km route between Port Elizabeth, New Jersey, and Hamilton, Bermuda. The ship’s route crosses the Middle Atlantic Bight, Slope Sea, Gulf Stream, and Sargasso Sea in the western North Atlantic and the data it collects along the way provides long-term views of ocean currents and heat transport in this very dynamic and climatically important region.