A study of the circulation of the western North Atlantic
Iselin, Columbus O’Donnell
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With the opening of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in July 1931, there was inaugurated a program of investigations in the deep waters of the western North Atlantic for which there had long been a great need. In contrast to most deep-sea investigations, which have had to be planned as single expeditions, the Institution was able to initiate a general program which could be carried out gradually in order to take advantage of knowledge gained during the course of the work. Suffcient funds having been provided for the continuous operation of its research vessel "Atlantis," work could be planned for all seasons of the year. Although these investigations have not been in progress for long and new data are continually being brought in by the "Atlantis," there are several reasons that make it seem desirable at this time to publish a preliminary report based on the completed temperature and salinity observations. In the first place, the problem of oceanic circulation is such that we cannot hope for a satisfactory solution for a long time to come. Moreover, it would be unwise to allow too much data to accumulate, because several years may pass before we can arrive at more important conclusions. Secondly, both the chemical and biological programs undertaken at the same time, require as a background the general scheme of circulation in the western North Atlantic as well as the distribution of temperature and salinity. It is, in fact, the necessity of taking into consideration the movements of the sea water which ties together the whole subject of oceanography. Therefore, it is the duty of those interested in ocean circulation to make available their findings as soon as possible for investigators of other problems in the same area. The "Atlantis" temperature and salinity observations discussed in these pages were planned with two main purposes in view. The first objective was an intensive study of seasonal changes along sections running from the southwestern corner of Nova Scotia to Bermuda and from Bermuda to the mouth of Chesapeake Bay.! This, of course, included an examination of fluctuations in the Gulf Stream, as well as of the variations in the water masses on each side of it. Second, there has been planned and partly carried out, a more general survey of the western North Atlantic, where accurate, deep stations have been sadly lacking.
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