Satellite observations of surface circulation in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico during March and April 198939


1994 May


Barron J
Vastano AC

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Six Argos-reported drifters drogued to a depth of 2.7 m produced eight trajectories over the Texas-Louisiana Shelf and the adjacent oceanic waters of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico from 7 March to 29 April 1989. Launched by United States Coast Guard aircraft and Texas A & M University's R.V. Gyre, the trajectories span the shelf from the vicinity of Barataria Bay, Louisiana to the southern reaches of Padre Island near Port Isabel, Texas. Two tracks demonstrate cross-slope and cross-shelf motion northward from the central western Gulf toward Louisiana. These two drifters join three others to define a coastal current flow westward from near the Mississippi delta to Galveston and then southwestward along the Texas coast. Two other trajectories indicate a relatively low-energy mid-shelf regime over the northwestern portion of the outer continental shelf. Five drifter groundings locate a convergence in the nearshore and littoral flows on the Texas coast between Matagorda Peninsula and southern Padre Island. Strong wind-driven events in the northwestern Gulf demonstrate instances of coherent shelf response over 7[deg] of longitude and 3[deg] of latitude. Infrared satellite imagery indicates the regional context and structure of the spatial scales of Gulf of Mexico surface circulation