A Tale of Two Seas

Flapping in the Breeze

You know those collections of photos people mail around—The World’s Greatest Buildings, the Most Amazing Landscapes or 13 Things to do with a Watermelon? Well, I recently got this photo in my e-mail.

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This is the meeting of the Baltic Sea with the North Sea at Skagen, Denmark. The waters of the Baltic are mostly fresh from a large land catch basin. The North Sea coming from the Danish Straits is more saline. It is this difference in density which creates the above phenomenon: the two bodies of water do not mix. Here it is on a map if you’re geographically-challenged like me.

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Pretty cool, huh? There is no visible barrier. The waves can be seen clashing into each other. It’s just as though they were two separate bodies of water. The actual physical barrier lies in a chemical difference in salinity called a halocline. Regional temperature variations sometimes…

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