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  • Writer's pictureIanna Luna

Requiem for eIMPACT1: why study eddy fields?

There's a series of things you can do from a distance to know about eddy fields, such as using AUVs like gliders or relying on satellite images, but it is simply not enough. You need to go to them. You can do that with a research vessel, amazing ships adapted for science far away from land, floating in the great blue. R/V Sarmiento de Gamboa has 6 different kind of labs and many lofty work spaces that can hold and work a huge variety of oceanographic equipment, like our CTD-rosette, deployment of sediment traps, SeaSoar deployment, zooplankton nets, you name it!

But... what's the point? Why are eddies important at all? Well, perhaps it's easier to see if you take a look at this image from NOAA.

Eddy fields hugging the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and many parts of the American continent. From: NOAA.

Eddy fields are ubiquitous in the whole wide blue, so perhaps, a deeper look into their life histories can open up many possibilities for new knowledge in the inner workings of our oceans, our climate and our world.

These have different properties to their surrounding waters, so they transport those around the ocean, whether it be heat or biological communities. They can also explain the dynamics that govern carbon fluxes as eddies are literal pumps that mix surface waters with deep waters. This can give us information about how much, and how, carbon is sequestered from our atmosphere, or not. Or to understand how the alkalinity of our oceans is maintained through time.

I could go on and on, because the possibilities are endless, therefore, we wouldn't be able to explore them without the incredible interdisciplinary effort this cruise signifies. We've got physicists, chemists and biologists working together to figure out what eddies are all about.

In thirty days, we have gathered an enormous amount of information from the eddy fields that could be used for seemingly limitless research. Four months from now, our scientific team will be back for more in one of the most privileged regions to carry out these kinds of studies: the Canary Eddy Corridor. A place where these swirling giants can be born, where they learn to walk, become rebellious teenagers and eventually detach from their islands.

This is how much they grew in just one week:

Garajonay, Anaga and Nublo's growth in just one week. From: Copernicus.

Satisfaction fills our hearts as the first part of this project is completed. I want to thank everyone who answered my questions, who encouraged me to be the best version of myself, guided me through this adventure and that accepted my invitation to be a part of this blog.

I learned from all of you, and my first oceanographic cruise will go on to be one of the landmarks of my life. For this, and all that only we can know by exchanging looks, hugs, and jokes only we can understand from now on, thank you! As Juan Luis Guerra would sing: "Y llegó la hora de partir y decir Sayonara, con pocas ganas..."

Min'na arigatō!

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