Some whirlpools come in pairs. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Christine Westerback
Scientists have discovered an entirely new phenomenon in fluid dynamics - pairs of connected whirlpools.
Huge whirlpools known as eddies, which can measure hundreds of kilometers across, are relatively common, however now it turns out that, under certain conditions, pairs of these swirling vortices can actually join together to form double whirlpools capable of traveling large distances across the sea.
"Ocean eddies almost always head to the west, but by pairing up they can move to the east and travel ten times as fast as a normal eddy, so they carry water in unusual directions across the ocean," said oceanographer Chris Hughes from the University of Liverpool.
"What we found was a pair of eddies spinning in opposite directions and linked to each other so that they travel together all the way across the Tasman Sea, taking six months to do it."
It turns out that these double whirlpools, which have been dubbed 'modons', have been appearing on satellite imagery for decades, but until now nobody had known what they were.
"My thinking is that these linked, fast moving eddies could 'suck-up' small marine creatures and carry them at high speed and for long distances across the ocean," said Hughes.
Source: Science Alert | Comments (3)