Student Research Presentations

Anticyclonic Eddies and their Influences on Salinity in the Mid-Atlantic Bight




Martinez, A.*, J. Zhao, and L. Sanford


Ocean Sciences Meeting, San Diego, CA


Mesoscale eddies are fundamental elements in the global ocean system, as they profoundly impact the oceanic property redistribution, water mass transformation, biological activities etc. The western boundary currents, such as Gulf Stream, are hot spots for the eddy formation. There are both anticyclonic and cyclonic eddies shed from the Gulf Stream. When anticyclonic eddies impinge upon the shelf break in the Mid Atlantic Bight, they quickly dissipate, and the material that was trapped in their center is released and dispersed. Until recently, little was known about the extent of water exchange between the shallow shelf water in the Mid Atlantic Bight, which is a relatively cold, fresh, nutrient dense water mass, and warm, salty, nutrient poor water from the deep ocean released when anticyclonic eddies impinge upon the shelf break. This study seeks to explore the relationship between anticyclonic eddies (also called warm core rings) that impinge upon the continental shelf and salinity variability within the shelf.


Upon analysis, it is revealed that there is a moderate but significant correlation between the number of anticyclonic eddies that impinge upon the shelf each year and salinity changes on the continental shelf. When the eddy numbers are weighted by amplitude and radius, stronger correlations are obtained. Our study suggests that anticyclonic eddies make sizable contribution to the salinity changes on the continental shelf.


Jian Zhao, Ph.D. Larry Sanford, Ph.D.


Alina Martinez, University of the District of Columbia
The REU students are indicated with an asterisk (*).

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