What is it about?

The loop current eddies are like rings of water detached from the water that enters the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea through Yucatan and Cuba. These eddies dominate the ocean circulation in the Gulf and are particularly relevant for the western Gulf of Mexico where Mexico is looking into new oil and gas sources. We characterized the currents by using an artificial neural network method named self-organized maps, allowing the description of the circulation patterns.

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Why is it important?

Knowing the ocean circulation in an area of oil and gas exploitation allows planning for oil spill contingencies, as the circulation is the main driver moving the oil spill to other areas. Also, it is possible to enable rapid forecasts systems based on the circulation patterns, that may save valuable time to take action in the case of contingencies.


The method we present in this study can be applied to develop rapid forecast systems. We made this study as a step towards a forecast system that can use precomputed simulations that will allow saving precious time in case of a contingency. Such a system will also be a valuable tool for countries with low computing resources and slow internet connections. We aim to provide such a system as a management tool for planning and as a forecast system during contingencies. Such a system could be adapted to forecast the dispersal of algal blooms, larvae, and plastics. Also, we are looking into doing such a system to understand the patterns leading to the sargassum arrivals in the Mexican Caribbean, and hopefully, create a forecast system to mitigate the impacts.

Christian Appendini
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Ocean Circulation in the Western Gulf of Mexico Using Self‐Organizing Maps, Journal of Geophysical Research Oceans, May 2019, American Geophysical Union (AGU), DOI: 10.1029/2018jc014377.
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