Upwelling and downwelling induced by mesoscale circulation in the DeSoto Canyon region

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Thanh-Tam Nguyen1,2, Eric Chassignet1,2, Steven L Morey1,2 and Dmitry S Dukhovskoy1,2, (1)Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies, Tallahassee, FL, United States, (2)Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, United States
Ocean dynamics are complex over irregular topography areas, and the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, specifically the DeSoto Canyon region, is a challenge for modelers and oceanographers. Vertical movement of waters, especially upwelling, is observed to take place over the canyon’s head and along the coast; however, it is not well understood. We focus on upwelling/downwelling processes induced by the Loop Current and its associated eddy field using multi-decadal Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model simulations. The Loop Current, part of the Gulf Stream, can develop northward into the Gulf through the Yucatan Channel and exit through the Florida Straits. It can reach the continental slope of the study domain and directly depress the isopycnals. Cyclonic eddies in front of the Loop Current also induce upwelling underneath. On the other hand, the Loop Current sometimes impinges on the West Florida Shelf and generates a high pressure disturbance, which travels northward along the shelf into the study region. Consequently, large-scale downwelling occurs across the continental slopes. Our analysis of sea surface height shows that the Loop Current pressure disturbance tends to propagate along the shallow isobaths of 100 to 300 m in the topographic wave direction from south of the West Florida Shelf to the Mississippi Delta. In addition, after shedding a large anticyclonic eddy, the Loop Current retracts southward and can touch the southeastern corner of the West Florida Shelf. This can result in a higher pressure disturbance, and therefore stronger large-scale downwelling in the DeSoto Canyon region.