Print version ISSN 0016-7169
MARIN, M et al. On the near surface momentum balance in the Yucatán Channel. Geofís. Intl [online]. 2008, vol.47, n.1, pp. 57-75. ISSN 0016-7169.
The horizontal momentum balance in the upper layers of the Yucatán Channel is examined for a period of 22 months, from September 1999 to June 2001, using subsurface currents from ADCP measurements at eight moorings across the channel, pressure measurements from coastal pressure sensors on both sides of the channel, QuickSCAT winds and AVISO altimetry data. The averaged balance between Isla Mujeres, México, and Cabo San Antonio, Cuba, (across-channel axis) is basically geostrophic, but with contributions from ageostrophic terms, particularly friction against lower layers and to a lesser degree, the surface Ekman drift. Both the advective and the local acceleration terms appear unimportant in the side-to-side averaged balance. Interestingly, the averaged balance in along-channel axis is also mainly geostrophic; linear friction, Ekman drift, local acceleration and advective terms remain unimportant. An analysis of the balance from mooring to mooring across the channel indicates that in the region where the Yucatán current meanders, the advective terms with across-channel derivatives contribute significantly. The EOF modes of sea level anomalies from altimetry and the along-channel flow in the upper 90 m surface layer are correlated. Their two first modes are seemingly related to the transport fluctuations through the channel, but also to the along-channel pressure gradient and to the meandering of the Yucatán Current core, suggesting the presence of appreciable eddy-current interactions in the Channel.
Keywords : Yucatán Channel; momentum balance; channel dynamics; geostrophy.