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Observations of the Florida and Yucatan Currents from a Caribbean Cruise Ship

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  • 1 Division of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Florida
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Abstract

The Yucatan and Florida Currents represent the majority of the warm-water return path of the global thermohaline circulation through the tropical/subtropical North Atlantic Ocean. Their transports are quantified and compared by analyzing velocity data collected aboard the cruise ship Explorer of the Seas. From 157 crossings between May 2001 and May 2006, the mean transport of the Florida Current at 26°N was estimated to be 30.8 ± 3.2 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1), with seasonal amplitude of 2.9 Sv. Upstream, the Yucatan Current was estimated from 90 crossings to be 30.3 ± 5 Sv, with seasonal amplitude of 2.7 Sv. These two currents are shown to be linked at seasonal time scales. Hence, contrary to former results, it was found that transports through the Florida Straits and the Yucatan Channel are similar, with the implication that only small inflows occur through minor channels between them.

Corresponding author address: C. Rousset, MPO, RSMAS, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149. Email: crousset@rsmas.miami.edu

Abstract

The Yucatan and Florida Currents represent the majority of the warm-water return path of the global thermohaline circulation through the tropical/subtropical North Atlantic Ocean. Their transports are quantified and compared by analyzing velocity data collected aboard the cruise ship Explorer of the Seas. From 157 crossings between May 2001 and May 2006, the mean transport of the Florida Current at 26°N was estimated to be 30.8 ± 3.2 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1), with seasonal amplitude of 2.9 Sv. Upstream, the Yucatan Current was estimated from 90 crossings to be 30.3 ± 5 Sv, with seasonal amplitude of 2.7 Sv. These two currents are shown to be linked at seasonal time scales. Hence, contrary to former results, it was found that transports through the Florida Straits and the Yucatan Channel are similar, with the implication that only small inflows occur through minor channels between them.

Corresponding author address: C. Rousset, MPO, RSMAS, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149. Email: crousset@rsmas.miami.edu

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