Sunday, 22 January 2012
INFLUENCE OF ATMOSPHERIC COLD AIR OUTBREAKS ON UPPER OCEAN THERMAL VARIABILITY OF THE FLORIDA STRAITS
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
This study investigates the response of the upper ocean thermal structure in the southern Florida Straits to cold-air outbreaks (CAOs), and the influence of the Loop Current position on the CAO impacts. Warm tropical water is transported to the FS through the Yucatan-Loop-Florida Current (YLFC). The residence time for YLFC water in the Gulf of Mexico depends on the variable northward penetration of the Loop Current. It is hypothesized that during CAOs, the cooling of YLFC water before it reaches Florida Straits is sensitive to the northward extent of the Loop Current. This connection between the Loop Current position and the cooling of the YLFC surface waters is investigated using a 20-year satellite sea surface temperature data set and Loop Current position determined from satellite altimetry. Thermal budgets are calculated in Eulerian and Langrangian reference frames using data from a Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM)1/25° Gulf of Mexico simulation. Outcomes of this work are of importance to understanding local fisheries of economic importance, as extreme cooling of Florida Straits water during CAOs can impact local fish species that are sensitive to thermal stresses.