On the recent destabilization of the Gulf Stream path downstream of Cape Hatteras Academic Article uri icon


  • Mapped satellite altimetry reveals interannual variability in the position of initiation of Gulf Stream meanders downstream of Cape Hatteras. The longitude where the Gulf Stream begins meandering varies by 1500?km. There has been a general trend for the destabilization point to shift west, and 5 of the last 6?years had a Gulf Stream destabilization point upstream of the New England Seamounts. Independent in situ data suggest that this shift has increased both upper-ocean/deep-ocean interaction events at Line W and open-ocean/shelf interactions across the Middle Atlantic Bight (MAB) shelf break. Mooring data and along-track altimetry indicate a recent increase in the number of deep cyclones that stir Deep Western Boundary Current waters from the MAB slope into the deep interior. Temperature profiles from the Oleander Program suggest that recent enhanced warming of the MAB shelf may be related to shifts in the Gulf Stream's destabilization point.

publication date

  • September 28, 2016