A model analysis of the behavior of the Mediterranean Water in the North Atlantic

Jia, Y.; Coward, A.C.; de Cuevas, B.A.; Webb, D.J.; Drijfhout, S.S.. 2007 A model analysis of the behavior of the Mediterranean Water in the North Atlantic. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 37 (3). 764-786.

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The behavior of the Mediterranean Water in the North Atlantic Ocean sector of a global ocean general circulation model is explored, starting from its entry point at the Strait of Gibraltar. The analysis focuses primarily on one experiment in which explicit watermass exchange between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic at the Strait of Gibraltar is permitted. The model produces an exchange rate of approximately 1 Sv (Sv 106 m3 s−1). This is comparable to estimates derived from field measurements. The density of the Mediterranean outflow, however, is lower than observed, mainly because of its high temperature (more than 2°C higher than in reality). The lower density of the outflow and the model’s inadequate representation of the entrainment mixing in the outflow region cause the Mediterranean Water to settle in a depth range 800–1000 m in the North Atlantic, about 200 m shallower than observed. Here an interesting current system forms in response to the intrusion of the Mediterranean Water, involving three main pathways. In the first, the Mediterranean Water heads roughly westward across the basin and joins the deep western boundary current. In the second, the water travels northward along the eastern boundary reaching as far as Iceland, where it turns westward to participate in the deep circulation of the subpolar gyre. In the third, the water initially moves westward to the central Atlantic just north of 30°N before turning northwestward to reach an upwelling region at the Grand Banks off Newfoundland. At this location, the saline Mediterranean Water is drawn upward to the ocean upper layer and entrained into the North Atlantic Current system flowing to the northeastern basin; part of the current system enters the Nordic seas.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0022-3670
Date made live: 10 Aug 2007 +0 (UTC)

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