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Open Access Investigation of the Relationship Between the Yucatan Channel Transport and the Loop Current Area in a Multidecadal Numerical Simulation


A hypothesis by Maul (1977), stating the rate of change of loop current (LC) volume is related to deep Yucatan Channel (YC) transport, is tested with a continuous 54-year simulation of the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) using a regional 1/25° resolution Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) configuration. The hypothesis states that the imbalance of transport between the upper YC and the Florida Straits controls the rate of change of the LC volume and that the imbalance is compensated by transport through the deep YC. Bunge et al. (2002) found a strong relationship between the deep YC transport and the LC area using 7.5 months of data from a mooring array in the YC, but the observational record length was relatively short compared to the time scale of LC variability. The 54-year HYCOM simulation provides a much longer and spatially complete data set to study the LC variability. Results show that the time evolution of the LC between two shedding events can be viewed as a combination of relatively high-frequency fluctuations superimposed on a low-frequency trend. The high-frequency variability of the LC area time derivative and the deep YC transport are related. The low-frequency variability is examined by comparing the LC area time series with time-integrated transport in the deep YC, and statistically similar trends are identified, supporting the Maul (1977) theory.

Keywords: Gulf of Mexico; HYCOM; Loop Current; Yucatan Channel

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2014

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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