“...balanced mesoscale structures and spontaneous emission of inertia-gravity waves...”


I am an observational and numerical Physical Oceanographer and study the ageostrophic secondary circulation (ASC) at mesoscale, the generation and propagation of inertia-gravity waves (IGWs) in geophysical flows, wave-mean interactions, and physical-biological coupling.  Recently I am interested in submesoscale dynamics (structure, dispersion, ASC, ...) investigated using in-situ data obtained from in-situ data (drifters/SeaGliders), remote sensing, and numerical modeling.


  1. 1.Vortical Flow at Mesoscale and Submesoscale, Vertical Velocity, Inertia-Gravity Waves, and Wave-Mean Interactions in the Gulf of Mexico (Internal Project, CICESE, Mexico, 2012-2013).

  2. 2.Study of the Vertical Oceanic Pump in Mesoscale Eddies (Plan Nacional de I+D+i, MEC, Spain, 2013-2015).

  3. 3.Short-Term Horizontal Dispersion Near the Surface within the Inner Shelf in the Gulf of Mexico (Sectorial Research Fund SRE-CONACYT S0018, 2015-2020).

  4. 4.An Autonomous Observing System of Mesoscale and Submesoscale Structures in the Western Gulf of Mexico with Gliders (Sectorial Research Fund SRE-CONACYT S0018, 2015-2020).

  5. 5.Carbon fluxes in coastal upwelling system (Cape Blanc, NW Africa): roll of dissolved and suspended carbon in the biological vertical pump (Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, proyectos de excelencia y proyectos RETOS,  2016-2018). 


  1. 1.Estimation of the deep mixing within mesoscale eddies in the Gulf of Mexcio (CONACyT, call CB-2016-01).

“...IGWs are freely propagating in the ocean at rest but they are dispersed by background vorticity leading to horizontal turning points on the sides of the vortical structures and  a vertical critical layer at the base of the vortical structure where the wave’s intrinsic frequency equals the effective Coriolis frequency. Therefore, trapping and amplification of IGWs at the critical layers is ubiquitous in mesoscale vortical structures. Recently, we have observed trapping and stalling of IGWs beneath the Loop Current (at 1000m depth) after the passage of the hurricanes Gustav and Ike (2008) over the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). This mechanism could trigger vertical mixing and turbulence in the interior Gulf of Mexico...”

“...The geophysical flows under the influence of Earth’s rotation and gravitational field, such as the ocean and the atmosphere, show a large range of movements at different spatial and temporal scales. Large scale flows with small frequencies are usually refereed to balanced flows or slow manifold (e.g., quasi-geostrophic balance) because they filter out or neglect the small scale motions with higher frequency, i.e., the unbalanced Inertia-Gravity Waves (IGWs). IGWs can be generated at the ocean boundaries (surface and bottom) and in the interior ocean through spontaneous adjustment emission (SAE). In this context, the spontaneous emission of IGWs from vortical balanced flows (monopoles, dipoles, tripoles, jets, etc.) implies the non-existence of a slow manifold in the strict sense of complete absence of IGWs...”

FIG.1. Sources of inertia-gravity waves in the ocean.

FIG.2. Time evolution of the near-inertial kinetic energy as a function of depth at a mooring located within the anticyclonic Loop Current.

FIG.3. Vertical section along the east-west transect of cross-transect ADCP velocity with superimposed contours of potential density anomaly (countour interval is 0.1 kg/m3).

FIG.4. Vertical section along 26.1ºN of the ageostrophic zonal velocity and vertical velocity. A unit arrow on the map corresponds to 0.1m/s for the zonal component and 10-4 m/s for the vertical component.

“Intrathermocline eddies (ITE) are ubiquitous in the Canary eddy corridor. The sampled anticyclonic ITE has a vertical extension of 500m and 46km radius. Two cores of low potential vorticity are observed within the eddy: one centered at 85m and the other between 175-325 m. The eddy was moderately ageostrophic (Rossby number, Ro=-0.6) with azimuthal velocity up to 0.5 m/s. The eddy core, of 30km radius, was in solid body rotation with period of 4 days. Kinetic energy (KE) exceeded that of available potential energy (APE): KE/APE=1.58.

The mesoscale vertical velocity associated to this ITE was multipolar near surface and dipolar in deeper layers. Similar dipolar distributions of vertical velocity were observed in numerical simulations in the Canary eddy corridor (Estrada-Allis et al. 2017 to be submitted) ”.

Seaglider from Grupo de Monitoreo Oceanográfico con Gliders (GMOG):