Ocean Physics

Shear by the centimeter

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  02 Feb 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6375, pp. 531-532
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6375.531-c

Oil from the 2011 MV Rena spill surrounds a service vessel.

PHOTO: NATURE PICTURE LIBRARY/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Predicting the transport of oil and floating debris in the ocean is very difficult because it is challenging to measure differences in water motion very close to the surface. Laxague et al. present measurements of the ocean's current vector profile made in the Gulf of Mexico, showing that the velocity of the uppermost centimeter of the water column was four times that at a depth of 10 m and displaced by nearly 90°. Therefore, incorporating these kinds of dynamics into forecasting efforts is essential for better understanding the movement and fates of plastic particles and spilled oil in the oceans.

Geophys. Res. Lett. 10.1002/2017GL075891 (2017).

Navigate This Article