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Impact of frontal eddy dynamics on the Loop Current variability during free and data assimilative HYCOM simulations

Matthieu Le Henaff, Villy Kourafalou, Ashwanth Srinivasan, George Halliwell
(Abstract received 12/21/2010 for session X)

The Loop Current (LC) is connecting the Caribbean basin to the Atlantic through the Gulf of Mexico (GoM). It has a highly variable northern and western extension in the GoM, from a port-to-port configuration, where the current flows straight from the Yucatan to the Florida Straits, to a very extended configuration where it reaches the Northern GoM shelf. At this point, the current forms an anticyclonic loop that eventually closes itself to form a warm core ring that then drifts westward inside the GoM, while the LC retracts to its original southern position. A 1/25° free-running GoM-HYCOM simulation has been set up to study the LC dynamics, with a focus on the role played by frontal dynamics, especially cyclonic eddies, in the LC variability. Such eddies are known to be involved in the separation of the warm-core ring from the current. Our results provide insights on how frontal cyclones intensify along the northern edge of the LC. Frontal cyclones appear to interact with each other to lead to a ring separation. A 1/50° data assimilative GoM-HYCOM simulation has been recently set up in the follow-up of the 2010 BP oil spill disaster. Preliminary results with the Singular Evolutive Extended Kalman (SEEK) filter will be shown, with a focus on the impact of DA on the preservation and realism of frontal dynamics.

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2011 LOM Workshop, Miami, Florida February 7 - 9, 2011