Friday, June 24, 2016

"Rossby Whistle" in the Caribbean Is So Loud, You Can Hear It From Space

I live in the Caribbean at the moment. And so, while this scientific discovery is pretty cool anyway, it was especially cool to me, because I got to read it in my local news.

University of Liverpool researchers have discovered a very low, very loud sound coming from the Caribbean Sea. For those wondering, it's an A-flat, but it's too far below the range of human hearing for any of us down here to be bothered by it (thank goodness).

The researchers who discovered the sound have dubbed it the Rossby whistle after the Rossby waves — a.k.a. “planetary waves” — that push across the ocean and cause the sound when they reach the Caribbean.

This "whistle" happens, because the Caribbean Sea is partially closed, and party open, so when the water rushes in from the Atlantic Ocean, it's like the air rushing into a whistle and sound being projected out the open end. Apparently, this happens every 120 days, or so, when the Sea exchanges water with the ocean. And yes, it can be "heard" from outer space, being picked up as oscillations in the earth's gravity field.

Aside from being a super-cool natural phenomenon, the Rossby Whistle could have practical purposes for predicting coastal flooding.

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