Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Robert H. Weisberg, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andrea Mask, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lianyuan Zheng, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Yonggang Liu, Ph.D.


synoptic forcing, deep-ocean forcing, backward, Isopycnic Trajectories


This Thesis explores the connectiveness of the West Florida Shelf’s various areas of economic and ecological importance by considering five case studies of varying dynamic forcing influences and time. The advection of water about the shelf moves nutrients and has a direct impact on the shelf’s ecology and the determination of whether or not the shelf will be oligotrophic at any given time or location. The case studies are analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively after quasi-isopycnal particle trajectory calculations are completed for each. The findings support a combination of local and deep-ocean forcing being ideal for the maximum advection and opportunity for potential connectivity between areas of the shelf, and provide a solid guide for moving forward with a considerable ensemble of studies in the future to approach the question from a statistical perspective. The numerical scheme used to calculate the particle trajectories is a 4th order Runge-Kutta method. The scheme is investigated for it appropriateness and pitfalls as a backward trajectory calculation tool by direct comparison between forward trajectory calculations and attempting to replicate the result in the backward direction. The findings support that the more linear the trajectory and the more restrictive the dynamics acting upon a particle at any given location, the better the backward and forward replication will be, although it is still an approximation, much like any other iterative tool used for approximating a solution to an ordinary differential equation.

Included in

Oceanography Commons