Observational evidence for atmospheric modulation of the Loop Current migrations
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Recent modeling studies on the shedding of Loop Current rings suggest that the intensification of the dominant zonal wind field delays the detachment of rings and affects the Loop Current migrations. The atmospheric modulation of the Loop Current migrations is analyzed here using reanalysis winds and altimetry-derived observations. A newly developed methodology is applied to locate the Loop Current front, and a wavelet-based semblance analysis is used to explore correlations with atmospheric forcing. The results show that weakening (intensification) of the zonal wind stress in the eastern Gulf of Mexico is related with the Loop Current excursions to the north (south). Semblance analyses confirm negative correlations between the zonal wind stress and the Loop Current migrations during the past 20 years. The intrusions of the Loop Current might involve an increase of the Yucatan Transport, which would balance the westward Rossby wave speed of a growing loop and delay the ring shedding. The results of this study have consequences for the interpretation of the chaotic processes of ring detachment and Loop Current intrusions, which might be modulated by wind stress.
KeywordsLoop Current wind stress wavelet analysis altimetry air-sea interactions Gulf of Mexico
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