New ocean current discovered in the North Atlantic

Scientists have discovered an alternative route for water to travel to a channel off the coast of the Faroe Islands.

An international team of scientists has discovered a previously unknown ocean current in the North Atlantic Ocean, through which water enters a channel off the coast of the Faroe Islands, located between the Shetland Islands and Iceland.

“The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) is the main regulator of the global climate system and its variability. AMOC transports the warm and salty waters of the Atlantic to higher latitudes where they cool and return as overflowing waters. The overflow canal off the Faroe coast, which runs from the Shetland Islands to Iceland, serves as one of two key AMOC arteries transporting water from the northern seas to the northern Atlantic Ocean, ”reads a study published in the journal Nature Communications.

Previously, scientists assumed that cold waters running along the northern slope of the Faroe Islands fall directly into the Faroe-Shetland Canal (between the Faroe Plateau and the continental shelf of Scotland), and only then into the channel off the Faroe shores.



However, the authors of the new work showed that the water travels a longer path – bypassing the tip of Eurasia, near Norway, before turning south towards the Faroes. “Discovery of this new path from the available observations was not an easy process and it took us a long time to put all the data together,” said Leon Chafik of Stockholm University.

Scientists have also found that the detected deep current is dependent on the wind. “It seems that atmospheric circulation plays an important role in the organization of certain flow patterns”, added Chafik.

At the same time, it turned out that a significant part of the water that enters the channel off the Faroe shores does not actually pass along the western side of the Faroe-Shetland channel, as it was believed until now. On the contrary, it comes from its eastern part, where it is carried by this deep oceanic current. “An interesting discovery, because we know that a similar stream exists in the Danish straits,” the authors of the work noted.

Recently, mathematical modeling has helped scientists better understand the behavior of an unusual zone off the coast of Greenland and the Labrador Peninsula. And near the coast of the United States, under the salty waters of the Atlantic Ocean, a giant layer of freshwater was discovered.