Large cyclonic rings from the northeast Sargasso Sea Academic Article uri icon


  • Expendable bathythermograph observations have revealed large cold core cyclonic current rings to the east of 60°W in a region that mechanical bathythermograph observations (Parker, 1971) indicated to be devoid of rings. As a class these rings are larger than typical Gulf Stream rings that form and drift west of 60°W. The typical diameter (15°C at 500 m) there is around 100 km, while the eastern Sargasso rings are 200 km and more in diameter. Several of these eastern rings were observed on each of four cruises in the northern Sargasso Sea in 1974 and 1975. The overall picture of the region east of 60°W obtained was a very noisy one, dominated by large?diameter, large?amplitude eddies. One of the eastern rings was seen in all four cruises and was observed to drift westward for over 730 km at an average speed of 4.4 km/d, starting at 56°30?W and 34°40?N and passing north of Bermuda. The character of the dissolved oxygen anomalies in the cores of the eastern rings suggests a possible formation region at the eastern end of the Sargasso Sea gyre, around 40°W. Hence the eastern rings may have already been a year old when first observed in November 1974. A single deep hydrographic section showed the center of the deep circulation to lie considerably further southwest than the near?surface circulation center, although this could be a distortion due to a large seamount. Moored current meter data suggest a level of no motion within eastern rings at about 2000 m, giving a weak anticyclonic circulation of 4 × 106 m3/s below that level, compared with the 45 × 106 m3/s cyclonic circulation above 2000 m. On several occasions, smaller?scale upward displacements of the thermal structure were seen at the sides of eastern rings. It is not known whether these represented interactions with smaller rings or some breakdown of the circular symmetry.

publication date

  • December 1978