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Characterization of mexican seas from satellite data

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Olivia Salmerón-García
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Regions in the Gulf of Mexico are determined based on the statistical behavior of the long-term monthly means of chlorophyll-a concentration from SeaWiFS satellite estimations. An analysis based on the four largest modes of an empirical orthogonal decomposition, which account for 84.9% of the variance, results in nine spatial patterns with different statistical behavior representing 14 connected regions. The time evolution (or principal component) of the first two modes resemble the annual cycle, but each one with a different phase; the third mode represents a semiannual period and the fourth mode shows three maxima and minima. A map of the resulting regions is obtained and the oceanographic processes taking place in each region are discussed. The largest region covers most of the deep Gulf and the continental slope. Other regions in the deep Gulf are located southeast of the Mississippi River mouth and off-shelf of southern Texas and Tabasco, all associated with seasonal offshore cross-shelf transports. The shelves are associated with specific regions, but in wide shelves the inner and outer continental platforms are separated. Among the causes that determine different regions are topographic characteristics and the seasonal variability of physical processes, mainly entrainment caused by heat and momentum fluxes, upwelling, river plumes, and cross-shelf transports associated with the convergence of the along-coast currents. KeywordsGulf of Mexico–Regionalization–Chlorophyll-a concentration–EOF analysis