Assessment of numerical simulations of deep circulation and variability in the gulf of Mexico using recent observations

Steven L. Morey, Ganesh Gopalakrishnan, Enric Pallás Sanz, Joao Marcos Azevedo Correia De Souza, Kathleen Donohue, Paula Pérez-Brunius, Dmitry Dukhovskoy, Eric Chassignet, Bruce Cornuelle, A. M.Y. Bower, Heather Furey, Peter Hamilton, Julio Candela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Three simulations of the circulation in the Gulf of Mexico (the “Gulf”) using different numerical general circulation models are compared with results of recent large-scale observational campaigns conducted throughout the deep (>1500 m) Gulf. Analyses of these observations have provided new understanding of large-scale mean circulation features and variability throughout the deep Gulf. Important features include cyclonic flow along the continental slope, deep cyclonic circulation in the western Gulf, a counterrotating pair of cells under the Loop Current region, and a cyclonic cell to the south of this pair. These dominant circulation features are represented in each of the ocean model simulations, although with some obvious differences. A striking difference between all the models and the observations is that the simulated deep eddy kinetic energy under the Loop Current region is generally less than one-half of that computed from observations. A multi-decadal integration of one of these numerical simulations is used to evaluate the uncertainty of estimates of velocity statistics in the deep Gulf computed from limited-length (4 years) observational or model records. This analysis shows that the main deep circulation features identified from the observational studies appear to be robust and are not substantially impacted by variability on time scales longer than the observational records. Differences in strengths and structures of the circulation features are identified, however, and quantified through standard error analysis of the statistical estimates using the model solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1045-1064
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


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