Sounding Out Ocean Fine Structure

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Science  08 Aug 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5634, pp. 772-773
DOI: 10.1126/science.1086924

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Measurements from ships have indicated that intrusions--alternating layers of warm and cool water--play a key role in ocean mixing. "Salt fingers," features just 10 cm in diameter, are implicated in the transport of these 20-m-thick water layers. In his Perspective, Ruddick highlights the report by Holbrook et al., who have used seismic profiling to image the small-scale layering in the ocean at an unprecedented level of detail. The new seismic method should help to determine the precise mechanism of ocean mixing.