S17-40-50 (100 mm)
Flight 41G; 36N, 5.5W, 12:04:04 GMT, 11 Oct 1984
The best examination of internal soliton waves took place during Flight 41G, in October 1984. It was stimulated by the assignment of an oceanographer to the flight crew. To support his efforts, and those of the rest of the crew aboard the Challenger, a team of navy oceanographers operated out of Gibraltar with ships and aircraft to take measurements simultaneous with the observations from space.
The photograph opposite, taken with the 100-mm lens on the Hasselblad, provides an overview of a soliton surge through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Alboran Sea. Once a day the high tide produces sufficient energy to create solitons atop the strong density boundary between the dense bottom water flowing west into the Atlantic Ocean and the less dense water flowing into the Mediterranean from the Atlantic. To the west, the ruffled water north of Tangiers marked the shallowest part of the strait, where the forcing of the solitons began. To the east of Gibraltar, the arcuate solitons pushed into the Alboran Sea against a 20-knot wind blowing westerly toward the Atlantic Ocean. South, off the coast of Morocco, stratus clouds lay over the center of the sun's reflection pattern.
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