Why can wind delay the shedding of Loop current eddies?

Y. L. Chang, L. Y. Oey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


It is first shown that wind in the Gulf of Mexico can delay the shedding of Loop Current eddies. A time-dependent, three-dimensional numerical experiment forced by a spatially and temporally constant westward wind stress within the Gulf is analyzed and then is compared with an otherwise identical no-wind run, and the result is confirmed with reduced-gravity experiments. It is shown that the wind produces westward transports over the northern and southern shelves of the Gulf, convergence in the west, and a returned (i.e., eastward) upper-layer flow over the deep central basin toward the Loop Current. The theory from T. Pichevin and D. Nof is then used to explain that the returned flow constitutes a zonal momentum flux that delays eddy shedding. Mass-balance analysis shows that wind also forces larger Loop Current and rings (because the delayed shedding allows more mass to be accumulated in them) and produces more efficient mass exchange between the Gulf and the Caribbean Sea. It is shown that eddies alone (without wind stress curl) can force a boundary current and downward flow in the western Gulf and a corresponding deep flow from the western Gulf to the eastern Gulf.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2481-2495
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Nov


  • Currents
  • Eddies
  • Wind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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