GULF STREAM DAILY THERMOGRAMS ACROSS THE STRAITS OF FLORIDA

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  • 1 Clark University, Worcester, Mass
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Abstract

During the past four years the Gulf Stream has been subjected to investigation by sea-water thermographs on crossing ships. Details of temperature, including alternating masses of warmer and cooler water, diurnal ranges of temperature, and rapid changes in distribution, have been written on the thermograms to form an amazingly complex picture.

The thermograph is a mercury-in-steel bulb and capillary type, the thermal element being fixed in the intake pipe through which large volumes of water from several feet below the surface are continually pumped to the condensers.

An instrument of this sort installed in 1928 on the Peninsular & Occidental steamship Henry M. Flagler, one of the three Key West-to-Habana car ferries, provides the temperature record for one round trip daily while the ship is in operation. The south-bound trip gives a night profile and the northbound a daytime one. From night to day in sunny quiet weather the sea temperature at the surface rises 3° or 4° F. and at a depth of 6 feet about 2°. In windy weather the diurnal range is reduced by stirring to 1° or less.

The summer profile is characteristically warmer in the north than in the south, while the temperature of Key West Harbor stands out several degrees above the Gulf Stream. A band of cool water is almost always traversed within a mile of the Cuban shore, apparently where swell and current striking the steeply sloping bottom bring cool water to the surface. Similar cool water often occurs likewise at the margin of shoal water south of Key West. The winter profile is usually 2° or more warmer in the south than in the north portion of the straits. A narrow zone of probably upwelling water several degrees cooler than on either side usually divides the warmer water from the cooler. This boundary shifts many miles with wind and other effects that bring at one time more water direct from the Caribbean and at another time from the Gulf. Great variations sometimes occur in the course of a few hours.

Storms, chiefly through their stirring action, reduce the surface temperatures by 1° or more. Strong cold winds have an even greater effect than hurricanes, for they chill the water considerably as well as mix the warm surface layer with the cooler substrata.

Abstract

During the past four years the Gulf Stream has been subjected to investigation by sea-water thermographs on crossing ships. Details of temperature, including alternating masses of warmer and cooler water, diurnal ranges of temperature, and rapid changes in distribution, have been written on the thermograms to form an amazingly complex picture.

The thermograph is a mercury-in-steel bulb and capillary type, the thermal element being fixed in the intake pipe through which large volumes of water from several feet below the surface are continually pumped to the condensers.

An instrument of this sort installed in 1928 on the Peninsular & Occidental steamship Henry M. Flagler, one of the three Key West-to-Habana car ferries, provides the temperature record for one round trip daily while the ship is in operation. The south-bound trip gives a night profile and the northbound a daytime one. From night to day in sunny quiet weather the sea temperature at the surface rises 3° or 4° F. and at a depth of 6 feet about 2°. In windy weather the diurnal range is reduced by stirring to 1° or less.

The summer profile is characteristically warmer in the north than in the south, while the temperature of Key West Harbor stands out several degrees above the Gulf Stream. A band of cool water is almost always traversed within a mile of the Cuban shore, apparently where swell and current striking the steeply sloping bottom bring cool water to the surface. Similar cool water often occurs likewise at the margin of shoal water south of Key West. The winter profile is usually 2° or more warmer in the south than in the north portion of the straits. A narrow zone of probably upwelling water several degrees cooler than on either side usually divides the warmer water from the cooler. This boundary shifts many miles with wind and other effects that bring at one time more water direct from the Caribbean and at another time from the Gulf. Great variations sometimes occur in the course of a few hours.

Storms, chiefly through their stirring action, reduce the surface temperatures by 1° or more. Strong cold winds have an even greater effect than hurricanes, for they chill the water considerably as well as mix the warm surface layer with the cooler substrata.

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