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The ability of high-resolution imaging systems to resolve small-scale structure on the ocean surface suggests the possibility of using characteristics of Langmuir circulation to map the surface mixed-layer depth and near-surface current. We illustrate this using synthetic aperture radar and infrared imagery that are collected across the edge of the Gulf Stream (GS), which reveals surfactant streaks, or ldquowindrows,rdquo that are induced by Langmuir circulation. Based on changes in the windrow spacing and orientation, the mixed layer is estimated to deepen from 7 to 12 m across the edge of the GS and the current to increase from about 1 to 2 m/s. These spatial changes compare reasonably well with independent data, suggesting that the approach is plausible. It may also be possible to extract additional environmental information from the windrows.
Date of Publication: July 2007