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The mesoscale variability in the Caribbean Sea. Part I: Simulations and characteristics with an embedded model

By Julien Jouanno, Julio Sheinbaum, Bernard Barnier, Jean-Marc Molines, Laurent Debreu and Florian Lemarié


International audienceThe variability in the Caribbean Sea is investigated using high resolution (1/15°) general circulation model experiments. For the first time in this region, simulations were carried out with a 2-way nested configuration of the NEMO primitive equation model. A coarse North Atlantic grid (1/3°) reproduces the main features of the North Atlantic and Equatorial circulation capable of influencing ocean dynamics in the Caribbean Sea. This numerical study highlights strong dynamical differences among basins and modifies the view that dynamics are homogeneous over the whole Caribbean Basin. The Caribbean mean flow is shown to organize in two intense jets flowing westward along the northern and southern boundaries of the Venezuela Basin, which merge in the center of the Colombia Basin. Diagnostics of model outputs show that width, depth and strength of baroclinic eddies increase westward from the Lesser Antilles to the Colombia Basin. The widening and strengthening to the west is consistent with altimetry data and drifter observations. Although influenced by the circulation in the Colombia Basin, the variability in the Cayman Basin (which also presents a westward growth from the Chibcha Channel) is deeper and less energetic than the variability in the Colombia/Venezuela Basins. Main frequency peaks for the mesoscale variability present a westward shift, from roughly 50 days near the Lesser Antilles to 100 days in the Cayman Basin, which is associated with growth and merging of eddies

Topics: Caribbean, Ocean model, Embedding, Mesoscale eddies, Instability, [INFO.INFO-MO]Computer Science [cs]/Modeling and Simulation
Publisher: 'Elsevier BV'
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.ocemod.2008.04.002
OAI identifier: oai:HAL:hal-00658107v1
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