With the ongoing development of ocean circulation models and real-time observing systems, routine estimation of the synoptic state of the ocean is becoming feasible for practical and scientific purposes. The models can assist in ocean monitoring and regional dynamics studies, but only after they have been validated.
For the first time, beginning 1 November 2004, independent ocean model estimates of the Florida Current (FC) volume transport are available, in real time, for cross validation with observed transport variations forced by cold front passages, tropical cyclones, and other weather systems. The FC flows poleward through the Straits of Florida and ultimately becomes the Gulf Stream. The FC originates from both the large-scale, wind-driven circulation of the North Atlantic subtropical gyre and the trans-equatorial Atlantic thermohaline overturning circulation (i.e., the “global conveyor belt”). The FC is constrained by Florida to the north and/or west and by Cuba and the Bahamas to the south and east, respectively (Figure 1).