Evidence of Loop Current Frontal Eddy Intensification Through Local Linear and Nonlinear Interactions with the Loop Current

Luna Hiron, Benjamin Jaimes de la Cruz, Lynn K. Shay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


During the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, an underestimated part of the oil was entrained into an intensified Loop Current Frontal Eddy (LCFE). These eddies, which are also known to play an essential role in the Loop Current eddy (LCE) shedding, are difficult to predict, and the dynamics involving their intensification are still not fully understood. The Loop Current (LC) and its strongest LCFEs were continuously tracked during 2009–2011 using sea surface height (SSH) from AVISO+. A mooring array provided complementary information about the internal structure of the LC-LCFE interaction. The intensification of the tracked LCFEs presented similar characteristics, independent of their location: a steep increase in kinetic energy, a corresponding negative increase in SSH, and an increase in its area. As the LCFE grows, the flow at the interface with the LC becomes stronger and deeper and the horizontal density gradient between the features increases. The intensification of the front and the LCFEs is driven by the advection (nonlinear) term and the gradient pressure (linear) term in the momentum budget. Evidence of an inverse energy cascade suggests that LCFEs are extracting energy and mass from the submesoscale field to the zone of contact between the LC and the LCFE, strengthening the front and allowing the LCFEs to grow during periods of intensification. Understanding the physics driving the LCFE intensification is a key step to improve LC forecast models and to better predict LCE shedding events, as well as oil and particle transport around the LC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2019JC015533
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Loop Current
  • Loop Current Frontal Eddy
  • Loop Current eddy shedding
  • eddy intensification
  • oceanic fronts
  • oil transport forecast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Oceanography


Dive into the research topics of 'Evidence of Loop Current Frontal Eddy Intensification Through Local Linear and Nonlinear Interactions with the Loop Current'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this