by Mitchell A. Roffer, Ph.D. (November 14, 2011)

As we were monitoring the conditions in the Gulf of Mexico this morning we observed several clear indications that a relatively large, clockwise rotating Loop Current eddy appears to have formed. The water of this anti-cyclonic eddy is rotating separately from the Loop Current. There is cooler water (less red/more orange on image) from the west Florida shelf being pulled around the eddy. We started to see this formation on November 07, 2011 and the development has continued for a week. Movie loops show the motion. Below is a false color enhancement of a two day (November 13 – 14, 2011) ROFFS™ sea surface temperature (SST) composite derived from a variety of infrared sensors on the NOAA, NASA and European Space Agency satellites. Also below are two independent graphics (NOAA_AOML and Univ. Colorado) derived from altimetry data from a longer period that shows this eddy and circulation field. The ocean color imagery (not provided here) also additional verification. The Loop Current SST is 27.6°-27.7°C (81.7°-81.9°F) and eddy is 26.8°-27.1°C (80.3°-80.8°F).

We will continue to monitor this to see if remains separated from the Loop Current. Presently the eddy is pulling a filament of the Loop Current water around the western side of the eddy, but most of the Loop Current water appears to be flowing eastward toward the Straits of Florida. North of the Loop Current eddy is another counter-clockwise flowing eddy. This situation is very similar to the circulation we observed during the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill episode. We also continue to receive reports of good tuna fishing action along the northern boundaries of the blue Loop Current water from south of the Mississippi delta and eastward over the Desoto Canyon area.




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