Warm-core eddy discovered in the Gulf of Mexico.

Walker, N.D., Huh, O.K., and Rouse, L.J. Jr.

Thermal infrared satellite data of June 6 and 8 reveal that a new large warm-core anticyclonic eddy has recently seperated from the Loop Current within the Gulf of Mexico. On June 8, the eddy's dimensions were 546 x 300 km, with a center at 26° 20.9' N latitude, 88° 05.8' W longitude. The eddy was justifiably named "Eddy Whopper."

The distance between the eddy and the Loop Current increased by about 70 km during the 56 hours that elapsed between the images shown. Seperation of the eddy was preceded by southwestward advecation of cool Florida shelf water observed between May 31 and June 6.

The eddy-shedding process occurs, on average, every 11 months in the Gulf of Mexico; however, there is considerable variability in the month of occurrence from year to year [Vukovich, 1988]. The last warm eddy was shed from the Loop Current in July or August 1992, but the event was obscured by cloud cover. We were therefore fortunate to obtain such clear sky conditions during this quasi-annual event. It remains to been if the eddy seperation is permanent, as occasioanlly the eddies reattach to the Loop Current.

Data acquisition and analysis was performed at the Earth Scan Lab, Coastal Studies University, using a Seaspace Terascan satellite data acquisition and analysis system. Satellite surveillance of the Gulf of Mexico at Louisiana State University is sponsored by a NASA grant and by the Minerals Management Service, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, as part of the Louisiana-Texas Physical Oceanography Program (LATEX).

Ref: Oceanography, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 337-338, July 1, 2006

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