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Rudnick, DL, Gopalakrishnan G, Cornuelle BD.  2015.  Cyclonic eddies in the Gulf of Mexico: Observations by underwater gliders and simulations by numerical model. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 45:313-326.   10.1175/jpo-d-14-0138.1   AbstractWebsite

Circulation in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) is dominated by the Loop Current (LC) and by Loop Current eddies (LCEs) that form at irregular multimonth intervals by separation from the LC. Comparatively small cyclonic eddies (CEs) are thought to have a controlling influence on the LCE, including its separation from the LC. Because the CEs are so dynamic and short-lived, lasting only a few weeks, they have proved a challenge to observe. This study addresses that challenge using underwater gliders. These gliders' data and satellite sea surface height (SSH) are used in a four-dimensional variational (4DVAR) assimilation in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) general circulation model (MITgcm). The model serves two purposes: first, the model's estimate of ocean state allows the analysis of four-dimensional fields, and second, the model forecasts are examined to determine the value of glider data. CEs have a Rossby number of about 0.2, implying that the effects of flow curvature, cyclostrophy, to modify the geostrophic momentum balance are slight. The velocity field in CEs is nearly depth independent, while LCEs are more baroclinic, consistent with the CEs origin on the less stratified, dense side of the LCE. CEs are formed from water in the GoM, rather than the Atlantic water that distinguishes the LCE. Model forecasts are improved by glider data, using a quality metric based on satellite SSH, with the best 2-month GoM forecast rivaling the accuracy of a global hindcast.

Hoteit, I, Hoar T, Gopalakrishnan G, Collins N, Anderson J, Cornuelle B, Kohl A, Heimbach P.  2013.  A MITgcm/DART ensemble analysis and prediction system with application to the Gulf of Mexico. Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans. 63:1-23.   10.1016/j.dynatmoce.2013.03.002   AbstractWebsite

This paper describes the development of an advanced ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF)-based ocean data assimilation system for prediction of the evolution of the loop current in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM). The system integrates the Data Assimilation Research Testbed (DART) assimilation package with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ocean general circulation model (MITgcm). The MITgcm/DART system supports the assimilation of a wide range of ocean observations and uses an ensemble approach to solve the nonlinear assimilation problems. The GoM prediction system was implemented with an eddy-resolving 1/10th degree configuration of the MITgcm. Assimilation experiments were performed over a 6-month period between May and October during a strong loop current event in 1999. The model was sequentially constrained with weekly satellite sea surface temperature and altimetry data. Experiments results suggest that the ensemble-based assimilation system shows a high predictive skill in the GoM, with estimated ensemble spread mainly concentrated around the front of the loop current. Further analysis of the system estimates demonstrates that the ensemble assimilation accurately reproduces the observed features without imposing any negative impact on the dynamical balance of the system. Results from sensitivity experiments with respect to the ensemble filter parameters are also presented and discussed. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.