Florida Current: Seasonal and Interannual Variability

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Science  18 Jan 1985:
Vol. 227, Issue 4684, pp. 308-311
DOI: 10.1126/science.227.4684.308


Annual and interannual variations in the Florida Current, Caribbean, and subtropical Atlantic are investigated with the use of historical sea level differences and wind field data. Observational and model evidence suggests that the seasonal transport cycle of the Florida Current is locally forced, either upstream in the Caribbean or downstream over topography. Although at seasonal and shorter periods sea level or bottom pressure fluctuations on the left side of the Florida Current contribute almost all of the variance of sea level difference across the Florida Straits and hence transport, this relation does not seem to apply at interannual time scales. Using results from the Subtropical Atlantic Climate Studies, it is estimated from historical sea level data that interannual transport fluctuations of the Florida Current are only of order 1 x 106 cubic meters per second. Interannual fluctuations in the 2- to 3-year period range in the Florida Straits seem to be correlated with sea level differences across the Caribbean and the subtropical Atlantic but not with Sverdrup transport fluctuations in the subtropical Atlantic.