Drifter motion in the Gulf of Mexico constrained by altimetric Lagrangian coherent structures

M. J. Olascoaga, F. J. Beron-Vera, G. Haller, J. Triñanes, M. Iskandarani, E. F. Coelho, B. K. Haus, H. S. Huntley, G. Jacobs, A. D. Kirwan, B. L. Lipphardt, T. M. Özgökmen, A. J. H. M. Reniers, A. Valle-Levinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Application of recent geometric tools for Lagrangian coherent structures (LCS) shows that material attraction in geostrophic velocities derived from altimetry data imposed an important constraint to the motion of drifters from the Grand Lagrangian Deployment (GLAD) in the Gulf of Mexico. This material attraction is largely transparent to traditional Eulerian analysis. Attracting LCS acted as approximate centerpieces for mesoscale patterns formed by the drifters. Persistently attracting LCS cores emerged 1 week before the development of a filament resembling the "tiger tail" of the Deepwater Horizon oil slick, thereby anticipating its formation. Our results suggest that the mesoscale circulation plays a significant role in shaping near-surface transport in the Gulf of Mexico. Key Points Altimetric LCS constrain drifter motion Altimetric LCS form centerpieces of drifter distributions Altimetric LCS cores predate shape changes in drifter distributions

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6171-6175
Number of pages5
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 16 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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