Vol. 58 No. 4 (2019)

Oceanographic units of Gulf of Mexico and adjacent areas: The monthly integration of surface biophysical features

A. Uribe-Martínez
Posgrado en Geografía Instituto de Geografía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
R. Aguirre-Gómez
Instituto de Geografía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
J. Zavala-Hidalgo
Centro de Ciencias de la Atmósfera, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
R. Ressl
Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad
E. Cuevas
Universidad Autónoma del Carmen

Published 2019-10-01


  • Marine regionalization,
  • spatiotemporal analysis,
  • satellite oceanography
  • Regionalización marina,
  • análisis espacio-temporal,
  • oceanografía satelital

How to Cite

Uribe-Martínez, A., Aguirre-Gómez, R., Zavala-Hidalgo, J., Ressl, R., & Cuevas, E. (2019). Oceanographic units of Gulf of Mexico and adjacent areas: The monthly integration of surface biophysical features. Geofísica Internacional, 58(4), 295-315. https://doi.org/10.22201/igeof.00167169p.2019.58.4.2059


The Gulf of Mexico (GoM) is a large marine ecosystem that has unique oceanographic dynamics, as it shows important spatiotemporal variations in the configuration of its surface waters. Several studies have used the thermal and biological features to subdivide the GoM, while other had provided subdivisions using circulation features. Nevertheless, none of those works have produced a dynamic regionalization that consider biological and physical features of the GoM simultaneously. The goal of this work was to propose a dynamic division of the GoM which considers physical and biological features and to analyze the monthly spatial evolution of regions in an average year. We used statistical multivariate analysis to recognize the underlying structure of the data, to generate a monthly expression of clusters and to test the robustness of the achieved regionalization. We obtained 18 regions called oceanographic units (UO) that merged unique surface characteristics of the GoM and that had a monthly spatial configuration. We observed two main groups of UO: those that are mainly related with circulation properties and those that were defined by its biological and thermal associations. Fifteen UO were present all year long, while three of them were only present some months. All UO have monthly internal variations and their boundaries displayed seasonal spatial variation; however, they remained well differentiated from each other. This study offers a novel way to divide an oceanic system, which provides quantitative and pragmatic parameters that can help to develop monitoring systems considering the intrinsic ocean dynamics. The information about oceanographic unit variability provides valuable information to promote marine resources management, in concordance to their temporal association with certain water masses. These results also provide the basis to analyze interannual variations of oceanographic units to offer information about the sea surface dynamics and to help understanding a complex system such as Gulf of Mexico.