U.S. scientists continue study of Samoan Passage

A group of scientists from the Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington are in town. They call themselves the Wave Chasers, and they are leading the research study in the Samoa Passage.

I know you’re curious! What is the Samoan passage? And where is it?

In mid 2012, the Wave Chasers were out at sea for the second phase of their research, and fortunately enough I had the opportunity to be part of the team and observed their work for a month and a bit on R.V Roger Revelle – a research vessel from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. It was an amazing learning experience!

The Samoan passage is located north of the Samoa Islands, 5500m beneath the sea surface is one of the choke points in the abyssal circulation.

Water from the Antarctica flow through it on its way to the North Pacific and as it enters this path a lot of mixing and different processes take place that modifies the water.

Imagine 50 Apia rugby stadiums passing through each second; it’s like a raging underwater river. Specialised technology/instruments were deployed to measure the water velocity, turbulence and internal waves in the region.

Their goal is to understand these deep processes and the way they impact the flow. The mixing that takes place also contributes a lot to our weather and climatic factors; it defines deep circulation patterns in the Pacific. All in all, it’s complicated.

Here on the Thomas G. Thompson – research vessel, to collect the deployed instruments from the first trip and continue the second phase of their research, the Rotaract Club of Apia was invited to tour the vessel and learn more about the research.