Persistent Lagrangian transport patterns in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico

Matt K. Gough, Francisco J. Beron-Vera, María J. Olascoaga, Julio Sheinbaum, Julien Jouanno, Rodrigo Duran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Persistent Lagrangian transport patterns at the ocean surface are revealed from climatological Lagrangian coherent structures (cLCSs) computed from daily climatological surface current velocities in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico (NWGoM). The climatological currents are computed from daily velocities produced by an 18-yr-long free-running submesoscale-permitting Nucleus for European Modelling of the Ocean (NEMO) simulation of the Gulf of Mexico. Despite the intense submesoscale variability produced by the model along the shelf break, which is found to be consistent with observations and previous studies, a persistent mesoscale attracting barrier between the NWGoM shelf and the deep ocean is effectively identified by a hook-like pattern associated with persistent strongly attracting cLCSs. Simulated tracer and satellitetracked drifters originating over the shelf tend to be trapped there by the hook-like pattern as they spread cyclonically. Tracers and drifters originating beyond the shelf tend to be initially attracted to the hook-like pattern as they spread anticyclonically and eventually over the deep ocean. The findings have important implications for the mitigation of contaminant accidents such as oil spills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-367
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019


  • Continental shelf/slope
  • Lagrangian circulation/transport
  • Mesoscale processes
  • Nonlinear dynamics
  • Ocean
  • Ocean circulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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