Hurricane-induced ocean waves and stokes drift and their impacts on surface transport and dispersion in the Gulf of Mexico

Milan Curcic, Shuyi S Chen, Tamay M Ozgokmen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


Hurricane Isaac induced large surface waves and a significant change in upper ocean circulation in the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall at the Louisiana coast on 29 August 2012. Isaac was observed by 194 surface drifters during the Grand Lagrangian Deployment (GLAD). A coupled atmosphere-wave-ocean model was used to forecast hurricane impacts during GLAD. The coupled model and drifter observations provide an unprecedented opportunity to study the impacts of hurricane-induced Stokes drift on ocean surface currents. The Stokes drift induced a cyclonic (anticyclonic) rotational flow on the left (right) side of the hurricane and accounted for up to 20% of the average Lagrangian velocity. In a significant deviation from drifter measurements prior to Isaac, the scale-dependent relative diffusivity is estimated to be 6 times larger during the hurricane, which represents a deviation from Okubo's (1971) canonical results for lateral dispersion in nonhurricane conditions at the ocean surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
StateAccepted/In press - 2016



  • Dispersion
  • Hurricane
  • Ocean transport
  • Ocean waves
  • Stokes drift

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Geophysics

Cite this