His Research Ran Deep


would have been the 79th birthday of Henry Stommel, an American oceanographer who studied the Gulf Stream and other ocean currents. Stommel applied simple mathematical models to the study of the ocean and determined that the Gulf Stream was not just a marine river of warm water, but also the boundary between cold northern waters and the warm, currentless Sargasso Sea at the center of the Atlantic. His model suggested that currents are active down to the ocean floor, and when he compared these with patterns of air circulation in the atmosphere, he found that the rotation of Earth--or Coriolis forces--creates effects in the ocean similar to those seen in the atmosphere. In 1960 Stommel co-founded the ARIES deep-float experiment, one of the first attempts to systematically measure deep ocean currents. Stommel published The Gulf Stream, a book that summarized his work on ocean currents, in 1965.

[Source: Emily McMurray, Ed. Notable Twentieth Century Scientists. Gale Research Inc. ITP. 1995.]