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Dennis A. Mayer and Jimmy C. Larsen

Abstract

A linear relationship between tidal height (sea level of tidal frequencies) and tidal transport near 27°N in the Straits of Florida is confirmed. Transport estimates from this relationship for the O1 and M2 constituents are compared with those computed from cable voltages across the Florida Current. These estimates are independent in that the weighted tidal height model (tidal-height transport relationship) was developed using collective sets of current meter and velocity profiler data obtained at different times of the year and in different locations. The cable voltages, however, were calibrated using a quasi-synoptic sectional integration of depth-averaged profiler data. Further, a means is suggested by which changes in the cable calibration can be detected.

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Richard J. Greatbatch, Youyu Lu, Brad DeYoung, and Jimmy C. Larsen

Abstract

A high-resolution, barotropic model of the North Atlantic is used to study the variation of transport through the Straits of Florida on timescales from a few days to seasonal. The model is driven by wind and atmospheric pressure forcing derived from ECMWF twice daily analyses for the years 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1988. The model-computed transports are compared with the cable-derived estimates of daily mean transport. Atmospheric pressure forcing is found to have an insignificant effect on the model results and can be ignored. A visual comparison between the model-computed transport and the cable data shows many similarities. Coherence squared between the two time series has peaks between 0.4 and 0.5 and is significant at the 95% confidence level in the period range from 6 to 100 days, with a drop in coherence near 10 days. The model overestimates the autospectral energy in the period range of 4 to 20 days but underestimates the energy at longer periods. The authors find that remote forcing to the north of the straits does not significantly affect coherence squared and phase between the model-computed transport and the cable data but is necessary to explain the autospectral energy in the model-computed transports at periods greater than 10 days. The most significant failing of the model is its inability to capture 8–10 mo timescale events in the cable data. Interestingly, the World Ocean Circulation Experiment Community Modeling Effort, driven by synoptic wind forcing, does exhibit roughly 8-month timescale events, as seen in the cable data but missed by the barotropic model.

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Peter Hamilton, Jimmy C. Larsen, Kevin D. Leaman, Thomas N. Lee, and Evans Waddell

Abstract

Transports were calculated for four sections of the Florida Current from Key West to Jupiter, Florida, using a moored current-meter array and voltages from cross-channel telephone cables at the western and northern ends of the Straits of Florida. In addition, moored arrays were used to estimate transport through the Northwest Providence, Santaren, and Old Bahama Channels that connect the Florida Current to the southwestern part of the North Atlantic Ocean. Transport measurements were obtained for an 11-month period from December 1990 to November 1991. Mean transports of ∼25 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) for the flow across the western ends of the straits, which agree quite well with recent estimates of 23.8 ± 1 Sv entering the Gulf of Mexico through the Yucatan Channel, were obtained from both the Key West to Havana cable and the moored array. This estimate is about 5 Sv less than the generally accepted transport through the northern end of the straits at 27°N. This difference was partially accounted for by inflows through the side channels with more transport from the Old Bahama than the Northwest Providence Channel. The variability in the southern part of the straits was larger than at 27°N and included large diversions of the Florida Current south of the Cay Sal Bank and into the Santaren Channel that were caused by large meanders of the flow. The variability of transport in the side channels contributed to the variability of the Florida Current and reduces the correlations of the transports at the ends of the straits. Therefore, the well-measured transport at 27°N is not an accurate indicator of the transport of the Loop Current out of the Gulf of Mexico.

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