Hurricane-forced Upwelling and Chlorophyll a Enhancement within Cold-core Cyclones in the Gulf of Mexico.
Walker, N. D., Robert R. Leben, Shreekanth Balasubramanian.
Clear skies, subsequent to Hurricane Ivan's passage across the Gulf of Mexico in September 2004, provided a unique opportunity to investigate upper ocean responses to a major hurricane. Oceanic cyclonic circulation was rapidly intensified by the hurricane's wind field (59-62 m s-1), maximizing upwelling and surface cooling (3-7 degrees C) in two large areas along Ivan's track. Upward isothermal displacements of 50-65 m, computed from wind stress and sea surface height changes, caused rapid ventilation of thermoclines and nutriclines, leading to phytoplankton blooms with peak concentrations 3-4 days later. Wind speed changes along Ivan's track demonstrated that the cool waters (20-26 degrees C) provided immediate negative feedback to the hurricane's intensity. Although our study focused on a relatively small ocean area, it revealed that mesoscale cyclones, in addition to warm anticyclones, may play an important role in producing along-track hurricane intensity changes.