Dutch research in the Caribbean

News - 05 February 2018 - Webmaster Hydraulic Engineering

From Feb 5th to Feb 11th, a unique research cruise initiated by Environmental Fluid Mechanics will take place in the Caribbean. During this week, the Dutch research vessel Pelagia will sail from Aruba to St Maarten to perform the first hydrographic survey of an ocean eddy in the region. 

Caribbean eddies are huge blobs of warm water (100-300 km diameter, surface temperature +3C w.r.t environment). They  are important for the exchange of heat and salt between the Atlantic and Caribbean, and may facilitate the growth of hurricanes. 

What we know about these eddies so far is almost entirely based on satellite observations. These can provide us with the eddy size and position, but we do not know what hides below the surface -  their vertical (baroclinic) structure is entirely unknown. During the cruise, velocity, temperature and salinity will be measured down to 3 kilometres depth. We will also deploy so-called Argo floats, which will autonomously provide temperature and salinity observations down to 2 km for months or years to come. Biologists from Wageningen University will join this leg to assess whether the population of marine mammals and large fish differs between the eddy and ambient waters. 

The cruise is part of the NICO expedition, during which the Dutch research vessel Pelagia travels from Texel to the Caribbean and back. 

PhD student Carine van der Boog and Msc students Tolga Comert and Ophelie Meuriot are on board to take care of the oceanographic and meteorological measurements. Caroline Katsman and PD Adam Candy are in Delft and study the outcomes of an ocean forecast model to provide updates of the positions of the eddies so that the cruise track can be adjusted if desired.

  • An article ben published about the research on Nemokennislink.nl. The article can be read here