Gulf of Mexico Surface Temperatures and Possible Upwelling

IMAGE SHOULD LOOP FROM Aug.28 - Sept. 07

LEFT CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE

This Gulf of Mexico image loop runs from August 28 through September 6, 2008.  To make sense of the loop you must observe the dates at the upper right of the image.

We often hear and read that 80° Fahrenheit is a minimum sea surface temperature for tropical systems to develop, and strengthen such that they survive.  That makes this graphic’s temperature scale relatively easy to interpret and make deductions because 26° Celsius is equivalent to 81° Fahrenheit and that is about the boundary between the “hot” colors and the “cool” colors.  Thus, when you watch the loop you will be seeing conditions conducive to the maintenance and possible strengthening of HURRICANE IKE if it travels over Gulf waters.  Forecasts are in great agreement that it will.

You might find the emergence of yellows interesting in the loop.  I’m quite certain that it is related to Gustav winds in that area during those designated days causing surface water to move toward the northwest allowing slightly cooler water to well up from below.  Upwelling is a very important phenomenon in oceans, not only with strong storm winds but also on a larger planetary scale along the western margins of the continents.Upwelling brings dissolved nutrients to the surface.  Phytoplankton, number ONE in the marine food chain, like all plants, derives its nutrition from the dissolved state.  Since phytoplankton and zooplankton are food sources for the grazing fishes and they, in turn, are food sources for the game and commercial fishes – the fishing is usually good where upwelling is occurring.  Look at the map I’ve provided below and observe the western margins of the continents.  You will be looking at places that are associated with good fishing!   Examples would be off California and Baja California and off Peru and Chile.

If you look at the oceanic gyres (the closed large-scale ocean current systems), you will see that these upwelling sites correspond with the cold boundary current segments of the gyres where water has been moving from higher latitudes toward lower latitudes.   In time, there will be more posts on the topic of the gyres, how they influence the weather, and why they are located where they are in the first place.

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