Alternate Title

Variability of the Sea Surface Temperature Around Cuba


Space and time variability of sea surface temperature in oceanic and shelf waters of Cuba were examined using the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) sensors flown on satellites operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from February 1995 to August 2001. Statistics at 90 specific time series stations around Cuba were extracted from the AVHRR images to characterize shelf and oceanic waters using the long-term overall mean, minimum, and maximum sea surface temperature (SST) values. Shelf and oceanic waters reached SST maxima (29.5-30.5°C) in August. Waters off southern and western Cuba reached slightly higher temperatures than those off the northeast in the Old Bahamas Channel; waters along the northern coast of Cuba were about 1°C cooler on average than those along the southern coast. Oceanic waters around Cuba experienced minima (24.5-25.5°C) in February-March, about a month after shelf waters. Only minor regional differences in maximum temperatures were observed in shelf areas. Shelf regions around Cuba have lower annual average SSTs than adjacent oceanic waters, and the range of monthly average SST of shelf waters exceeded that of oceanic waters by 3°C, with the largest differences observed during winter. Shelf waters also cooled down at >0.04°C/d, or twice as fast as oceanic waters (0.02°C/d) by action of sensible heat and evaporative losses. Shelf waters also warmed up at rates exceeding 0.06°C/d, which was two to three times faster than oceanic waters (0.02-0.03°C/d). SST anomalies were slightly positive between February 1995 and February 1999 and slightly negative from October 1999 to August 2001. In summer of 1995, 1997, and 1998, coral bleaching was observed in northern and southern reefs of Cuba. Summer anomalies >1°C occurred in May 1995 and August 1997, which may have contributed to the coral bleaching.