Last week when we were sampling just off the shelf in the remnant ice pack, we found a strong plume of close to 7° water, meandering a bit, but predominantly flowing strongly to the southeast. It was associated with a surface feature we could see in the satellite SAR image and looked like a warm current that had come around Point Barrow, separating from the coast, and heading eastward to melt some of the lingering ice.
Now, less than a week later, it looks like eddies have broken off the current, or perhaps the jet is meandering more and we’re passing through several of those meanders. Both of those things could be true! Or neither! This is where the detective work of oceanography comes in - pulling all the fragmentary pieces of data together to form a complete story so that all the individual observations fit. Hopefully we’ve collected enough measurements from the ship, from our floating assets, and from the sky, to convincingly describe the dynamics of this meandering plume.
A couple descriptive terms have made it into the colloquial language of the lab to refer to some of the features we’ve seen - “the crab” for the first big blob of water we encountered, and “the mushroom” for the 7° plume that made billowing shapes in the ice edge.
There has been some discussion lately about renaming these features with more official scientific terms (think eddy vs blob). Harper Simmons suggested that the mushroom be referred to as “the SODA fountain.” It definitely doesn’t meet the requirements of being more accurately descriptive but it is so pun-ily satisfying and I quite like it. Let us know if you have any other suggestions!