Genesis, evolution, and apocalypse of Loop Current rings
Event: 2020 Ocean Surface Topography Science Team Meeting (virtual)
Session: Science III: Mesoscale and sub-mesoscale oceanography
Presentation type: Type Forum only
We carry out assessments of the life cycle of Loop Current vortices, so-called rings, in the Gulf of Mexico by applying three objectives (i.e., observer-independent) coherent Lagrangian vortex detection methods on velocities derived from satellite altimetry measurements of sea-surface height (SSH). The methods reveal material vortices with boundaries that withstand stretching or diffusion, or whose fluid elements rotate evenly. This involved a technology advance that enables framing vortex genesis and apocalypse robustly and with precision. We find that the stretching- and diffusion-withstanding assessments produce consistent results, which show large discrepancies with Eulerian assessments that identify vortices with regions instantaneously filled with streamlines of the SSH field. The even-rotation assessment, which is vorticity-based, is found to be quite unstable, suggesting life expectancies much shorter than those produced by all other assessments.