Tracking Oceanic Mesoscale Features
in the Caribbean Sea using GEOSAT Altimetry

Jeffrey A. Nystuen and Carlos A. Andrade

Department of Oceanography
Naval Postgraduate School
Monterey, California

Abstract: Geosat Exact Repeat Mission (ERM) altimetry data, collected during 1987-1988 over the Caribbean Sea, are used to detect and track the movement of mesoscale sea surface height anomalies. Along-track derivatives are used to estimate the mean sea surface height. Contour maps of sea surface height (SSH) anomaly are generated for each 17-day exact repeat period. Two anticyclonic features are observed during April-July, one each year, with SSH signatures that reached +30cm. These features initially are observed near the Beata Ridge and propagate westward with an average speed of 15cm/s. No mesoscale anomalies associated with the Caribbean Current are apparent during other seasons. The formation of the anticyclones coincides with the seasonal increase to maximum wind stress curl and water transport in the central Caribbean. A quasi-permanent cyclonic eddy is detected near the southwestern portion of the Colombian Basin, confirming model predictions.

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