Effects of winds and Caribbean eddies on the frequency of Loop Current eddy shedding: A numerical model study

L. Y. Oey, H. C. Lee, William J. Schmitz

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100 Scopus citations


The Loop Current (LC) is known to shed eddies at irregular intervals from 3 to 17 months. The causes of this irregularity have not, however, been adequately identified previously. We examine the effects of various types of external forcing on shedding with a model of the western North Atlantic Ocean (96°-55°W, 6°-50°N). We force the model with steady transport at 55°W, with winds, and include eddies in the Caribbean Sea. We examine their separate effects. With steady transport only, the model sheds rings at a dominant period of 9-10 months. Wind-induced transport fluctuations through the Greater Antilles Passages cause shedding at shorter intervals (≈3-7 months). Caribbean eddies (anticyclones) cause shedding at longer periods (≈14-16 months . Potential vorticity conservation indicates that Caribbean eddies tend to deter northward extension of the LC into the Gulf, which can lead to longer periods between eddy shedding. Fluctuating inflow at the Yucatan Channel that is associated with winds and/or Caribbean eddies can cause an LC eddy to temporarily (∼1 month) detach from and then reattach back to the LC, a phenomenon often observed. Model results also suggest that southwest of Hispaniola, warm eddies are spun up by the local wind stress curl. This type of eddy drifts southwestward, then westward after merging with the Caribbean Current, and then northward as it progresses toward the Yucatan Channel; these eddies significantly affect the shedding behavior of warm-core rings. The timescale for spin up and drift from Hispaniola is about 100 days. Satellite data indicate the existence of these eddies in the real ocean.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-1 - 22-25
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number10
StatePublished - 15 Oct 2003


  • Caribbean Current
  • Eddy shedding
  • Gulf of Mexico
  • Loop Current
  • Numerical ocean model
  • Winds and Eddies


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