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Winds - Measuring ocean winds from space
QuikSCAT Data
Gulf of Tehuantepec
Gulf of Tehuantepec

This image shows high resolution surface winds measured by the SeaWinds scatterometer on January 3 and 4, 2005, and was taken at approximately midnight on the third. Wind speed is shown as color and wind direction as small black barbs. The intense red in the Gulf of Tehuantepec (just below the land in the center of the image) is the result of storm-forced wind blowing from east to west over the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico. The wind is funnelled through mountain passes, creating high speed wind jets over the Gulf of Tehuantepec. The wind, in turn, creates ideal conditions for upwelling, when deep, cold water is drawn to the surface. Upwelling brings nutrients to the surface which nourishes phytoplankton (microscopic plants). Zooplankton (small animals) feed on the phytoplankton and attract fish, making this a very productive fishing area. Red close along the coasts is an artifact of the imaging process.

In this image, the Pacific Ocean is at the bottom, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico is the thin neck of land area in the center of the image, and the Gulf of Mexico is at the top. Data used to create the image was collected by the SeaWinds scatteromometer onboard the QuiksCAT satellite.

Images courtesy David Long, Scatterometer Climate Record Pathfinder and Brigham Young University. QuikSCAT data courtesy of NASA/JPL.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


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