Atlantic Eddies along the Gulf Stream

May 21st, 2007 |

AWIPS MODIS sea surface temperature image

An AWIPS image of MODIS sea surface temperature (SST) on 21 May 2007 (above) shows an intricate pattern of Atlantic Ocean eddies along either side of the axis of the Gulf Stream. SST values in the 70-78º F / 21-26º C range (orange enhancement) marked the Gulf Stream axis as it meandered northeastward across the western Atlantic. Some of the eddies were offset a considerable distance from the Gulf Stream axis, most notably the pronounced cool eddy (SST values around 64º F / 18º C, dark green enhancement) located well to the southeast. The black areas over water on the image are regions where the MODIS cloud mask product indicated that clouds were present — no SST data is generated for such “cloudy” pixels. Although some cloud patches were indeed present, the strong thermal gradients associated with the Gulf Stream sometimes cause the MODIS cloud mask product to falsely indicate “cloud” over fairly large regions that in reality are not cloudy.

Note how the Real-Time Global SST model analysis (below) does a poor job resolving the details of these particular eddy features.


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