Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Analysis of 10 year temperature records collected along the Florida Keys reef tract (FLKRT) reveals strong, regional-scale synchrony in high-frequency temperature variation suggestive of internal wave forcing at predominately semidiurnal frequencies. In each year and at all sites, the amplitude of semidiurnal temperature variation was greatest from March to September, and markedly lower from October to February. Comparisons of the semidiurnal component of the temperature variation among sites suggest complex patterns in the arrival of internal waves, with highest cross correlation among closely spaced sites and synchrony in periods of enhanced internal wave activity across the length of the FLKRT, particularly in summer. The periods of enhanced semidiurnal temperature variation at the 20 and 30 m isobaths on the reef slopes appear to be associated with the dynamics of the Florida Current and the onshore movement of warm fronts preceding the passage of Florida Current frontal eddies. Regional-scale satellite altimetry observations suggest temporal linkages to sea surface height anomalies in the Loop Current (upstream of the Florida Current) and setup of the Tortugas Gyre. The synchronized forcing of cool water onto the reef slope sites across the FLKRT is likely to affect physiological responses to temperature variation in corals and other ectothermic organisms, as well as larval transport and nutrient dynamics with the potential for regionally coherent pulses of larvae and nutrients arriving on reef slopes across the FLKRT.