April 23, 2021

Caribbean Sea ‘Whistle’ may help understand coastal flooding

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carib2By Eric Chaney From The Weather Channel

The Caribbean Sea may have a built-in warning system for coastal flooding, a new study says, in the form of a resonant whistle that can be “heard” from space.

While analyzing more than 50 years of sea level and pressure reading data from the Caribbean, researchers from the University of Liverpool noticed a phenomenon which they have dubbed the ‘Rossby Whistle,’ the university said in a press release.

“We can compare the ocean activity in the Caribbean Sea to that of a whistle. When you blow into a whistle, the jet of air becomes unstable and excites the resonant sound wave which fits into the whistle cavity,” Professor Chris Hughes, an expert in Sea Level Science at the University, said in the release. “Similarly, an ocean current flowing through the Caribbean Sea becomes unstable and excites a resonance of a rather strange kind of ocean wave called a ‘Rossby wave.’”

Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 8.16.33 AMThese special waves, which travel slowly from east to west across the ocean, die out at the western boundary of the Caribbean Sea, Mother Nature Network reports, only to reappear on the eastern side, a phenomenon called a “Rossby wormhole.”

Because the Caribbean Sea is partially open to the ocean, the university release says, this resulting exchange of water allows scientists to “hear” the resonance using gravity measurements.

It takes 120 days for the waves to make it across the Caribbean Basin, Gizmodo reports. Because the distance is so vast, the resulting tone is an extremely low A-flat, something roughly 30 octaves below the bottom note of a piano.

“This phenomenon can vary sea level by as much as 10 centimeters along the Colombian and Venezuelan coast,” the university release says, ”so understanding it can help predict the likelihood of coastal flooding.”

IMAGES:
Water sloshing back and forth in the Caribbean basin acts like a whistle that can be detected from space. (NOAA)
Sea turtles in Caribbean Sea (Thinkstock Patryke Kosmider)

For more on this story go to: https://weather.com/science/space/news/caribbean-sea-creates-a-whistle-that-can-be-heard-from-space

See also iNews Cayman related story published June 21 2016 “Caribbean Sea acts like a whistle and can be ‘heard’ from space” at: http://www.ieyenews.com/wordpress/caribbean-sea-acts-like-a-whistle-and-can-be-heard-from-space/

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