Oleander is more than a flower: Twenty-five years of oceanography aboard a merchant vessel

Thomas Rossby, Charles N. Flagg, Kathleen Donohue, Sandra Fontana, Ruth Curry, Magdalena Andres, Jacob Forsyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Since late fall 1992, CMV Oleander III has been measuring upper ocean currents during its weekly trips between Bermuda and Port Elizabeth, New Jersey, by means of an acoustic Doppler current profiler installed in its hull. The overarching objective of this effort has been to monitor transport in the Gulf Stream and surrounding waters. With 25 years of observation in hand, we note that the Gulf Stream exhibits significant year-to-year variations but no evident long-term trend in transport. We show how these data have enabled studies of oceanic variability over a very wide range of scales, from a few kilometers to the full 1,000 km length of its route. We report that the large interannual variations in temperature on the continental shelf are negatively correlated with flow from the Labrador Sea, but that variability in the strength of this flow cannot account for a longer-term warming trend observed on the shelf. Acoustic backscatter data offer a rich trove of information on biomass activities over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. A peek at the future illustrates how the new and newly equipped Oleander will be able to profile currents to greater depths and thereby contribute to monitoring the strength of the meridional overturning circulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-137
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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