Adriatic Sea surface temperature and ocean colour variability during the MFSPP
Abstract. Two years and six months of night-time Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) sea surface temperature (SST) and daytime Sea viewing Wide Field of view Sensor (SeaWiFS) data collected during the MFSPP have been used to examine spatial and temporal variability of SST and chlorophyll (Chl) in the Adriatic Sea. Flows along the Albanian and the Italian coasts can be distinguished year-round in the monthly averaged Chl but only in the colder months in the monthly averaged SST’s. The Chl monthly-averaged fields supply less information on circulation features away from coastal boundaries and where conditions are generally oligotrophic, except for the early spring bloom in the Southern Adriatic Gyre. To better characterise the year-to-year and seasonal variability, exploratory data analysis techniques, particularly the plotting of multiple Chl-SST histograms, are employed to make joint quantitative use of monthly-averaged fields. Modal water mass (MW), corresponding to the Chl-SST pairs in the neighbourhood of the maximum of each monthly histogram, are chosen to represent the temporal and spatial evolution of the prevalent processes and their variability in the Adriatic Sea. Over an annual cycle, the MW followed a triangular path with the most pronounced seasonal and interannual variations in both Chl-SST properties and spatial distributions of the MW in the colder part of the year. The winter of 1999 is the colder (by at least 0.5°C) and most eutrophic (by 0.2 mg/m 3). The fall of the year 2000 is characterised by the lack of cooling in the month of November that was observed in the previous year. In addition to characterising the MW, the two-dimensional histogram technique allows a distinction to be made between different months in terms of the spread of SST values at a given Chl concentration. During spring and summer, the spread is minimal indicating surface homothermal conditions. In fall and winter, on the other hand, a spread of points suggesting a linear negative correlation between SST and Chl is found. This behaviour is related to the high nutrient content of cooler water associated with upwelling or the Po River fresh water outflow.
Key words. Oceanography: general (diurnal, seasonal and annual cycles; marginal and semi-enclosed seas; water masses)