Wintertime buoyancy forcing, changing seawater properties, and two different circulation systems produced in the Adriatic

Mirko Orlić; Vlado Dadić; Branka Grbec; Nenad Leder (HHI); Antun Marki; Frano Matić; Hrvoje Mihanović (HHI); Gordana Beg Paklar; Miroslava Pasarić; Zoran Pasarić; Ivica Vilibić;

Godina: 2006


Measurements performed in winter 2002/2003 and spring 2003 off the east Adriatic coast showed that the East Adriatic Current (EAC) peaked in January/February (as expected from previous findings) and again in May (not expected). The first maximum corresponded with the considerable cross-shore variability of seawater properties, the colder, fresher water prevailing close to the coast, the warmer, saltier water dominating the open sea. The second maximum coincided with the massive intrusion of warm, saline water from the south Adriatic. Meteorological and hydrologic forcing was anomalous over the measurement interval: during winter 2002/2003 the cooling and river outflows were strong, during spring 2003 the pronounced warming coincided with exceptional dryness. In order to interpret the two EAC maxima a simple numerical model reproducing response of the Adriatic-Mediterranean system to the wintertime forcing was developed. It was found that the first maximum could be related to the coastal freshwater input and offshore evaporation in the Adriatic area, and that the second maximum was probably due to the wintertime surface cooling of the Adriatic while warmer conditions prevailed above the Mediterranean. The resulting horizontal density gradients supported two different circulation systems, one within the Adriatic, the other between the Adriatic and east Mediterranean, and they differed not only in spatial but also in temporal scales, therefore supporting the occurrence of two distinctive EAC maxima.