Moscow: Russia's Arctic Floating University has possibly discovered a new branch of the Gulf Stream in the Barents Sea during its inaugural trip this summer, programme managers said Tuesday.
"This may be no Higgs boson, but this is important, too," Federal Meteorological Service head Alexander Frolov said at a press conference in Moscow. "But let's wait until we've analysed the data better."
Preliminary results indicate the Gulf Stream branch, either newly emerged or previously undiscovered, may be active by Russia's Novaya Zemlya archipelago, Frolov said.
Gulf Stream is a strong, fast moving, warm ocean current that originates in the Gulf of Mexico and flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Like all other ocean currents, it is mainly caused by wind as it creates friction when moving over the water.
The discovery, along with other research, has importance beyond academia because the Arctic region governs Russian winter temperatures, which in turn have a serious impact on the economy, Frolov said.
"A warm Arctic means cold winters," he said paradoxically, adding that such research helps develop long-term forecasts for the heating industry.
The Arctic Floating University, a unique programme which may open its doors to foreigners next year, saw 25 Russian masters and postgraduate students take a 40-day tour of the Barents Sea.
The UNESCO-endorsed training-through-research programme dates back to Soviet times, but fizzled out nationwide after 1991 due to the lack of funding, Frolov said.
The "Arctic floating university", housed aboard the Professor Molchanov -- an ice-strengthened oceanographic research vessel, crisscrossed ice fields in the Barents Sea, taking some 8,500 samples of water and from the seabed along the way between June 1 and July 10, said the expedition's research director Konstantin Bogolitsyn.
First Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2012, 21:17