Variability of mesoscale features in the Mediterranean Sea from XBT data analysis
Abstract. During the period 1998–2000, the Mediterranean Forecasting System Pilot Project, aiming to build a forecasting system for the physical state of the sea, has been carried out. A ship-of-opportunity programme sampled the Mediterranean upper ocean thermal structure by means of eXpendable Bathy-Thermographs (XBTs), along seven tracks, from September 1999 to May 2000. The tracks were designed to detect some of the main circulation features, such as the stream of surface Atlantic water flowing from the Alboran Sea to the Eastern Levantine Basin. The cyclonic gyres in the Liguro-Provenal Basin, the southern Adriatic and Ionian Seas and the anticyclonic gyres in the Levantine Basin were also features to be detected.
The monitoring system confirmed a long-term persistence of structures (at least during the entire observing period), which were previously thought to be transient features. In particular, in the Levantine Basin anticyclonic Shikmona and Ierapetra Gyres have been observed during the monitoring period.
In order to identify the major changes in the thermal structures and the dynamical implications, the XBT data are compared with historical measurements collected in the 1980s and 1990s. The results indicate that some thermal features are being restored to the situation that existed in the 1980s, after the changes induced by the so-called "Eastern Mediterranean Transient".
Key words. Oceanography: physical (eddies and mesoscale processes; general circulation; instruments and techniques)