Predicting the Loop Current dynamics combining altimetry and deep flow measurements through the Yucatan Channel

Manta, Gaston ; Durante, Giovanni ; Candela, Julio ; Send, Uwe ; Sheinbaum, Julio ; Lankhorst, Matthias ; Laxenaire, Rémi

Année de publication
2023
Résumé
<p align=justify>The Loop Current is the main mesoscale feature of the Gulf of Mexico oceanic circulation. With peak velocities above 1.5 m s-1, the Loop Current and its mesoscale eddies are of interest to fisheries, hurricane prediction and of special concern for the security of oil rig operations in the Gulf of Mexico, and therefore understanding their predictability is not only of scientific interest but also a major environmental security issue. Combining altimetric data and an eddy detection algorithm with 8 years of deep flow measurements through the Yucatan Channel, we developed a predictive model for the Loop Current extension in the following month that explains 74% of its variability. We also show that 4 clusters of velocity anomalies in the Yucatan Channel represent the Loop Current dynamics. A dipole with positive and negative anomalies towards the western side of the Channel represents the growing and retracted phases respectively, and two tripole shape clusters represent the transition phases, the one with negative anomalies in the center associated with 50% of the eddy separation events. The transition between these clusters is not equally probable, therefore adding predictability. Finally, we show that eddy separation probability begins when the Loop Current extends over 1800 km (~27.2°N), and over 2200 km of extension, eddy detachment and reattachment is more frequent than separation. These results represent a step forward towards having the best possible operational Loop Current forecast in the near future, incorporating near real-time data transmission of deep flow measurements and high resolution altimetric data.</p>
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