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Mon Jun 22, 2020, 08:55 PM

Massive underwater rivers were discovered off the coast of Australia [View all]

By Yasemin Saplakoglu - Staff Writer 5 days ago

These rivers could be critical for moving material from the coasts to the ocean.



Port Stephens in Australia was one of the places where the robotic gliders found an underwater
river. (Image: Shutterstock)

Massive, underwater rivers have been discovered hidden off Australia's coasts by robotic ocean gliders. These rivers could be critical for moving material from the coasts to the deep ocean, the researchers said.

Called "dense shelf water cascades," the hidden rivers form when shallow water on the coasts loses heat during the colder months. This water is already highly salty due to evaporation during the summer months. This cold, salty stream of water in the inner portion of the continental shelf the edge of the continent that's typically submerged in shallow water is denser than deeper water.

Driven by the difference in density, this river of water flows offshore along the ocean floor, according to a statement from The University of Western Australia. Previous studies have documented this phenomenon, but those were limited in their scope and didn't look at how these rivers are affected by seasons, according to the study.

Now, a group of researchers at The University of Western Australia analyzed data collected between 2008 and 2019 with ocean gliders from eight locations on Australia's coastline. The data "is the equivalent to spending more than 2,500 days at sea," lead author Tanziha Mahjabin, who completed the project as part of her Ph.D. thesis, said in the statement.

More:
https://www.livescience.com/underwater-rivers-discovered-australia.html

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