A New Characterization of the Upper Waters of the central Gulf of México based on Water Mass Hydrographic and Biogeochemical Characteristics

Gabriela Cervantes, Autonomous University of Baja California UABC, Instituto de Investigaciones Oceanológicas, Ensenada, BJ, Mexico, Jose Martin Martin Hernandez-Ayon, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Instituto de Investigaciones Oceanologicas, Ensenada, BC, BJ, Mexico, Alberto Zirino, University of California, San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA, United States, Sharon Z Herzka, Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education at Ensenada, Biological Oceanography, Ensenada, BJ, Mexico, Victor F Camacho-Ibar, Autonomous University of Baja California, Instituto de Investigaciones Oceanologicas, Ensenada, Mexico, Ivonne Montes, IRD/LEGOS/GEOMAR, Kiel, Germany; Instituto Geofísico del Perú, Lima, Peru, Joël Sudre, LEGOS/CNRS, SYSCO2, Toulouse, France and Juan Delgado, Instituto Tecnologico de Guaymas, Guaymas, SO, Mexico
In the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) at least three near-surface water masses are affected by mesoscale processes that modulate the biogeochemical cycles. Prior studies have presented different classifications of water masses where the greater emphasis was on deep waters and not on the surface waters (σθ< 26 kg·m-3), as in this work. Here presents a new classification of water masses in the GoM, based on thermohaline properties and dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration using data from a total of five summer and winter cruises carried out primarily in the central GoM. The reclassification includes an adjustment to the spatial range of Caribbean Surface Water (CSW), which is detected only during the summer. This water mass extends from the surface to ≈ 90 m and features warm waters (≈32 ºC), high salinities (≈ 36.8), non-detectable nitrate concentration, and negative values of the apparent oxygen utilization (AOU) of ≈-27 μmol·kg-1. Below the CSW, the deeper Gulf Common Water (GCW) was also redefined and characterized by a subsurface DO maximum, with values ≈50 μmol·kg-1higher than that found in surface waters. In winter, a replacement of the CSW by the GCW affected the biogeochemical composition of surface water as observed from an increase in nitrate concentrations, positives values of AOU (≈90 μmol·kg-1) and a decrease in surface temperatures (< 27 ºC). During winter, the Tropical Atlantic Central Water (TACW) that lies below the GCW is closer to the surface and contributes nutrients and low DO via strong vertical mixing induced by the windy “Nortes” season.