Thursday, April 19, 2012

Argo Float Trajectory

Back in February, I was in Bluff helping 'wake-up' and load 20 Argo Floats on board the 'Spirit of Enderby'. They were going to be deployed on Gareth Morgan's 'Our Far South' expedition.
I've been keeping an eye on where they are and what info they are telling us. Here is the trajectory of Argo Float WMO 5903880

See how it is heading off to the right (west to east). This is due to the Coriolis effect. In the Southern Hemisphere winds and ocean currents generally move in this direction and the opposite direction in the Northern Hemisphere.

I've been 'myth bustered' about the Coriolis Effect. I always thought that water goes down the sink differently in the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere since the Coriolis Effect acts in an opposite direction. The truth is that while the Coriolis Effect is real on a macroscopic scale (as with ocean currents and hurricanes), it's very weak on small scales, as in a sink or toilet bowl. Initial conditions, especially the direction the water enters the basin, are more significant than Mr. Coriolis' effect and can easily overcome it in most cases.

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