Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures


Physical-Bio-Optical Modeling in the Gulf of Mexico: Analysis of Water Mass Relationships to Pelagic Habitat

Event Name/Location

ASLO 2017 Aquatic Sciences Meeting, Honolulu, HI, February 26-March 3, 2017

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative DEEPEND (Deep-Pelagic Nekton Dynamics of the Gulf of Mexico) consortium’s objectives include the characterization of biophysical variability in the water column. Observational and multi-model approaches are used to increase understanding of the dynamics of deep-pelagic (0-1500 m) animal assemblages at multiple temporal and spatial scales. To date, four DEEPEND cruises, conducted during 2015 and 2016, have collected biophysical data in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. A 1/25° horizontal-resolution HYbrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM), recently coupled to the Carbon Silicate Nitrogen Ecosystem (CoSiNE) model, has been running in near real-time to support the cruise campaigns. The HYCOM-CoSiNE model data are used to study the water column in order to better understand the connections and interactions among biologically active zones, pelagic regimes, hydrodynamics and stratification. The observational data are matched up to model analyses for each cruise track and sampling station to examine the spatio-temporal evolution of biological and physical features, such as chlorophyll maxima, mixed layer depth, the Loop Current and Loop Current eddies, and mesoscale cyclonic (cold core) and anti-cyclonic (warm core) rings. This analysis elucidates a unique platform to better understand the vertical connectivity of pelagic habitat to mesoscale dynamics, physical-biological-optical processes, and water mass characteristics; all chief environmental drivers of habitat preference and behavior.