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Seasonal and interannual variability of oceanographic processes in the Gulf of Guinea: an investigation using AVHRR sea surface temperature data

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The Gulf of Guinea is situated in a critical position for understanding Atlantic equatorial dynamics. This study investigates seasonal and interannual variability in sea surface temperature (SST) throughout this region, focusing on dynamical ocean processes. A 10.5-year time series of remotely sensed SST data with 4 km spatial resolution from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) were used for this investigation, as they are sufficient to resolve shelf processes. Firstly, patterns of cloud cover were assessed, then spatio-temporal variability in SST patterns was investigated. Features identified in climatological SST images were the Senegalese upwelling influence, coastal upwelling, tropical surface water, river run-off and fronts. Of particular interest is a shelf-edge cooling along the coast of Liberia and Sierra Leone in February. Interannual variability, assessed using annual mean images, time series decomposition and spectral analysis, showed a quasi-cyclic pattern of warm and cool years, perhaps related to El NiƱo-type forcing. The results of this study show the usefulness of infrared remote sensing for tropical oceanography, despite high levels of cloud cover and atmospheric water vapour contamination, and they provide evidence for theories of westward movement of the upwelling against the Guinea current and remote forcing of the upwelling.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Marine Biological Association of the UK, The Laboratory, Citadel Hill, Plymouth, PL1 2PB, UK 2: Department of Mathematics, University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2003

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