| On the Loop Current Penetration into the Gulf of Mexico - :17959 | National Ocean Service (NOS)
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On the Loop Current Penetration into the Gulf of Mexico
  • Published Date:
    2017
  • Source:
    Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, 122(12), 9679-9694.
Filetype[PDF-3.23 MB]


Details:
  • Description:
    The Gulf of Mexico Loop Current generally intrudes some distance into the Gulf of Mexico before shedding an anticyclonic eddy and retreating back to its more direct entry to exit pathway. The control of this aperiodic process remains only partially known. Here we describe the evolution of the Loop Current throughout the era of satellite altimetry, and offer a mechanistic hypothesis on Loop Current intrusion. As a complement to the known effects of Loop Current forcing on the west Florida shelf circulation, we argue that the west Florida shelf, in turn, impacts the Loop Current evolution. A Self-Organizing Map analysis shows that anomalous northward penetrations of the Loop Current into the Gulf of Mexico occur when the eastern side of Loop Current is positioned west from the southwest corner of the west Florida shelf, whereas the more direct inflow to outflow route occurs when the eastern side of the Loop Current comes in contact with the southwest corner of the west Florida shelf. In essence, we argue that the west Florida shelf anchors the Loop Current in its direct path configuration and that farther northward penetration into the Gulf of Mexico occurs when such anchoring is released. To test of this hypothesis heuristically, we estimate that the dissipation and buoyancy work due to known Loop Current forcing of the west Florida shelf circulation (when in contact with the southwest corner) may exceed the pressure work required for the Loop Current to advance against the ambient Gulf of Mexico fluid. Plain Language Summary The Gulf of Mexico Loop Current may intrude far into the Gulf of Mexico or take a more direct entry to exit pathway. Such Loop Current behaviors are described using remote observations by satellites, and a heuristic hypothesis on the control of Loop Current intrusion is presented. We argue that energy dissipation and buoyancy work by the west Florida shelf circulation, when the Loop Current contacts the southwest corner of the west Florida shelf, may exceed the work against the ambient fluid that is required to move the Loop Current farther into the Gulf of Mexico. When this occurs the Loop Current may become anchored to the west Florida shelf.

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