01 Mapping the Ocean Floor: The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project was endorsed as part of the UN Ocean Decade. The project aims to map all the world’s oceans by the end of the decade. When it launched, only 6% of the seabed was mapped to a modern standard. On May 2, 2023, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco announced that now 24.9% of the seabed is mapped, including some 19,000 newly discovered undersea volcanoes. Mapping the ocean floor is a critical step towards informing decision-making in areas such as resource management, environmental change, and ocean conservation1 . 02 One Year in the Life of Ocean Eddies: The Alfred Wegener Institute simulated a year of ocean eddies in the Southern Ocean with the FESOM2 ocean model in a 3 km resolution.
THE WORLDS LARGEST WATERFALL
Deep beneath the Denmark Strait, between Iceland and Greenland, lies the largest and most powerful waterfall on Earth - the Denmark Strait cataract. This undersea wonder is around 160 kilometres wide and cascades over immense cataracts hidden from our view, descending nearly 3 kilometres to a depth of 3,505 metres. The Denmark Strait Cataract carries around 5 million cubic metres of water per second, dwarfing any giant waterfall on land.
The Denmark Strait Cataract is a natural wonder that has been a mystery to many. It is formed by the difference in temperature between the ultra-cold Arctic waters of the Greenland Sea and the slightly warmer Irminger Sea. When the water from the Greenland Sea meets the Irminger Sea water, it slides right down through it to the bottom of the ocean. The cold, dense water quickly sinks below the warmer water and flows over the huge drop in the ocean floor, creating a downward flow estimated at well over 3,482,972.13 cubic metres per second. This massive flow equals between 20 and 40 times the sum of all river water that flows into the Atlantic.
The existence of an undersea waterfall is astonishing in itself. The Denmark Strait cataract is not only remarkable for its height and power but also for its ability to exist at all. Its discovery is a testament to our ongoing exploration of our planet’s oceans and our continued fascination with their mysteries.
This is an episode of the Curiously Polar podcast
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