Date of Award

Spring 2006

Document Type

Legacy Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Marine Science


College of Science

First Advisor

Craig Gilman


As the Gulf Stream path meanders and fluctuates, the meanders can begin to steepen. If these meanders become steep enough, the water can begin to pinch off from the Gulf Stream, and eventually circulate independently. Gulf Stream rings are the only mechanism for breaching warm, equatorial water across the Gulf Stream wall and into the polar waters, or bringing cold polar water south to the equatorial waters. With this warm water comes energy, nutrients and marine life and chemical. One hypothesis is the purpose of these Gulf Stream rings is to circulate heat pole ward, or to bring cold water towards the equator. This may be one mechanism the ocean uses to distribute its heat or to cool during this era of global warming. A complete record of Gulf Stream ring formation has been compiled dating from 1975-2004. A total of 387 rings were counted. A variety of statistical software and analysis tool packs were applied to the data in hopes of assessing ring formation on a cyclical basis and attributing formation to another climatic event.