Assessment of Numerical Simulations of Deep Circulation and Variability in the Gulf of Mexico Using Recent Observations uri icon


  • AbstractThree simulations of the circulation in the Gulf of Mexico (the “Gulf”) using different numerical general circulation models are compared with results of recent large-scale observational campaigns conducted throughout the deep (>1500 m) Gulf. Analyses of these observations have provided new understanding of large-scale mean circulation features and variability throughout the deep Gulf. Important features include cyclonic flow along the continental slope, deep cyclonic circulation in the western Gulf, a counterrotating pair of cells under the Loop Current region, and a cyclonic cell to the south of this pair. These dominant circulation features are represented in each of the ocean model simulations, although with some obvious differences. A striking difference between all the models and the observations is that the simulated deep eddy kinetic energy under the Loop Current region is generally less than one-half of that computed from observations. A multidecadal integration of one of these numerical simulations is used to evaluate the uncertainty of estimates of velocity statistics in the deep Gulf computed from limited-length (4 years) observational or model records. This analysis shows that the main deep circulation features identified from the observational studies appear to be robust and are not substantially impacted by variability on time scales longer than the observational records. Differences in strengths and structures of the circulation features are identified, however, and quantified through standard error analysis of the statistical estimates using the model solutions.

publication date

  • April 2020