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Oceanic response to Hurricane Irma (2017) in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cuba and the eastern Gulf of Mexico
Avila-Alonso, D.; Baetens, J.M.; Cardenas, R.; De Baets, B. (2020). Oceanic response to Hurricane Irma (2017) in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cuba and the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Ocean Dynamics 70(5): 603-619.
In: Ocean Dynamics. Springer-Verlag: Berlin; Heidelberg; New York. ISSN 1616-7341; e-ISSN 1616-7228, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    Chlorophyll-a concentration; Exclusive Economic Zone of Cuba; HurricaneIrma; Remote sensing; Sea surface temperature

Authors  Top 
  • Avila-Alonso, D., more
  • Baetens, J.M., more
  • Cardenas, R.
  • De Baets, B., more

    An understanding of the oceanic response to tropical cyclones is of importance for studies on climate change, ecological variability and environmental protection. Hurricane Irma (2017, Atlantic Ocean) broke many records, including the fact that it was the first category 5 hurricane making landfall in Cuba since 1924. In this study, we assess the oceanic response of the waters of the Cuban Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the eastern Gulf of Mexico (GoM) to the passage of this hurricane. Overall, Irma led to a weak sea surface cooling in the EEZ, which was associated with the thermal structure of its waters and the fact that it was affected by the left-side quadrants of this hurricane. This cooling was driven by mixing and upwelling processes. In contrast, the chlorophyll-a (chl-a) concentration increase was comparable with climatological records, suggesting that horizontal advection of coastal waters and entrainment of chl-a rich waters from remote regions of the GoM influenced the post-storm chl-a concentration. Moreover, Irma increased the chl-a concentration in the northeastern GoM and stimulated the offshore transport of these chl-a-rich waters to the interior GoM. A high chl-a plume (HCP) extended southward across the eastern GoM during the first post-storm week of Irma, and these waters reached the northwestern Cuban coast following the Loop Current. An intensification of the geostrophic currents of an anticyclonic eddy at the upper front of the Loop Current, the formation of an anticyclonic-cyclonic eddy pair in the northeastern GoM and wind-driven advection governed the extension of this HCP.

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