Latest SMILES Project Update

The drifters we released during JR311 are still communicating and sending us their positions, providing crucial information about the evolution of ‘our’ eddy.


This movie shows the sea surface temperature (SST) measured from a satellite using an instrument called a microwave radiometer. The advantage of this instrument is that it can “see” the ocean surface through clouds. However, this data is also relatively low resolution, meaning that the submesoscale features that we measured are not visible and the SST looks “blurry”.

Nevertheless, large features are clearly visible. The movie begins on 1 April before the SMILES cruise and continues until late June, showing what has happened in the month since we left. By 4 May, a strong meander develops in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current which quickly pinches off to form a distinct eddy as noted in an earlier post. After the eddy formed, it slowly drifted northwest and has already covered more than 1 degree in latitude. Notice also that another cold eddy was generated in early June shortly after the cruise ended, and another meander is now visible near our field site. This shows that the processes that we saw are not at all uncommon at this location in the ocean. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why this site was chosen!