M.S. Coastal Zone Management
Alexander Soloviev, Ph.D
Richard Dodge, Ph.D.
The water velocities offshore south Florida are dominated by the Florida Current, and these effects result not only from the tremendous flow of water between Florida and the Bahamas, but also from the eddies and other rotational components imparted by the change in flow direction from eastward to northward along the Florida Keys and the end of the peninsula. These currents have been measured for decades, with methods ranging from subsurface floats to acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) and surface current measuring radars. Data suggests that there is a large degree of variability in the mean flow, including significant vorticity events, yet a comprehensive measurement, characterization, and model validation effort of the small timescale variances (hours to days), also known as turbulence, has not been conducted to date. In addition to local effects, the Florida Current has long been of interest because of the central role it must play in the general circulation of the North Atlantic Ocean and its probable role in global climatology. Studies suggest the advection of heat by ocean currents plays a major role in determining climate. The Florida Current is known to be a major transport system for heat flux across 25° N, an important location in the meridional transport of heat in the subtropical gyre. Logistically the Florida Straits have always been attractive to study because it is geographically constrained by the Florida Peninsula and the Bahamas. More recently, the potential for producing a source of clean and renewable base-load power for the Southeast Florida metropolitan area utilizing the current has been proposed. Therefore, the Florida Current has been one of the most studied ocean currents for well over 100 years. The large number of historic measurements provides an opportunity to verify computer models thru hind casting and supplement ongoing measurement and modeling activities. These datasets not only provide historic data at specific times and locations, but also depending on correlation between historic and contemporary measurements, may enable information on climatological trends to be inferred without requiring additional measurements. Past studies utilized a wide range of instruments, from mechanical current meters in the late 1800’s to modern acoustic and radar based systems at the leading edge of modern technology. The advantages of various sensors, as well as their limitations in certain applications, provide guidance on the proper means for additional data collection. A comprehensive review of historical equipment as well as the evolution of modern devices is essential for the informed planning and execution of detailed measurement efforts in the challenging waters of the Florida Current. This document provides information on historical and modern equipment that may enable the measurement of the highly dynamic surface waters of the Florida Current and provide insight on short-term variability and turbulence, as well as information beneficial to new technologies such as ocean energy production.
William E. Baxley. 2013. Ocean Current Measurements: Challenges and Opportunities in the Florida Current. Capstone. Nova Southeastern University. Retrieved from NSUWorks, . (344)