Far-Reaching Effects of the Hawaiian Islands on the Pacific Ocean-Atmosphere System

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Science  15 Jun 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5524, pp. 2057-2060
DOI: 10.1126/science.1059781

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Using satellite data, we detected a wind wake trailing westward behind the Hawaiian Islands for 3000 kilometers, a length many times greater than observed anywhere else on Earth. This wind wake drives an eastward ocean current that draws warm water from the Asian coast 8000 kilometers away, leaving marked changes in surface and subsurface ocean temperature. Standing in the path of the steady trade winds, Hawaii triggers an air-sea interaction that provides the feedback to sustain the influence of these small islands over a long stretch of the Pacific Ocean.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: xie{at}

  • Also at Frontier Research System for Global Change, Yokohama 236–0001, Japan.

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