Thirty Years of Observing the Gulf Currents

One of the primary ways oceanographers learn about the ocean currents is decidedly low-tech. Surface drifters, as you may have already guessed, float at the surface and drift with the currents. Think a basketball with GPS. This dataset from the Gulf of Mexico reflects the combined work of many investigators over three decades. The flashes of color are from major experimental deployments. Looking closely, you can see the swift Loop Current (sometimes a loop but sometimes short-circuited), occasional giant Loop Current Eddies drifting westward, and a semi-permanent gyre in the southwestern Gulf. From a work in progress with Paula PĂ©rez-Brunius.