Physical oceanographic conditions in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico in summer 2000–2002 Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The circulation and distribution of water properties in the water column of the Gulf of Mexico influence the flux of carbon to the benthic environment. The eddy field of the upper 1000 m creates environmental conditions that are favorable for biological productivity in an otherwise oligotrophic subtropical ocean. This eddy field results in the transport of nutrients and organic matter into the photic zone through cross-margin flow of shelf waters, upwelling in cyclones, and uplift from the interaction of anticyclones with bathymetry. These conditions then allow the productivity that becomes a possible source of carbon to the benthos. Data from four cruises during summers of 2000-2002 are used to describe the currents and water property distributions in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, which consists of water depths greater than 400 m. Comparisons are made to historical data sets to provide an understanding of the persistence of the characteristics of the Gulf and the processes that occur there. The currents in the Gulf are surface intensified, have minimum in 800-1000 m depths, and also exhibit bottom intensification, especially near sloping topography. Historical time series records show current speeds near-bottom reach 50-100 cm s-1. At basin scales, these currents tend to flow cyclonically (counter-clockwise) along the bathymetry. These near-bottom, episodic, high-speed currents provide a mechanism for the transport of organic material, in both large and small particle sizes, from one benthic area to another. The distributions of temperature, salinity, nutrients, and dissolved oxygen during the study appear to be unchanged from historical findings. The source waters for the deep Gulf are the water masses brought into the Gulf by the Loop Current system. The properties in the upper 100-200 m are the most variable of the water column, consistent with their proximity to wind mixing, river discharge mixing, and atmospheric influences. Below 1500 m, there are no major horizontal variations in these water properties. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd.

author list (cited authors)

  • Jochens, A. E., & DiMarco, S. F.

citation count

  • 47

publication date

  • December 2008