Simulation and analysis of the mesoscale circulation in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea
- 1Laboratoire d’Océanographie Dynamique et de Climatologie, Paris, France
- 2Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Techniques Avancées, Paris, France
Abstract. The large-scale and mesoscale circulation of the northwestern Mediterranean Sea are simulated with an eddy-resolving primitive-equation regional model (RM) of 1/16° resolution embedded in a general circulation model (GM) of the Mediterranean Sea of 1/8° resolution. The RM is forced by a monthly climatology of heat fluxes, precipitation and wind stress. The GM, which uses the same atmospheric forcing, provides initial and boundary conditions for the RM. Analysis of the RM results shows that several realistic features of the large-scale and mesoscale circulation are evident in this region. The mean cyclonic circulation is in good agreement with observations. Mesoscale variability is intense along the coasts of Sardinia and Corsica, in the Gulf of Lions and in the Catalan Sea. The length scales of the Northern Current meanders along the Provence coast and in the Gulf of Lions’ shelf are in good agreement with observations. Winter Intermediate Water is formed along most of the north-coast shelves, between the Gulf of Genoa and Cape Creus. Advection of this water by the mean cyclonic circulation generates a complex eddy field in the Catalan Sea. Intense anticyclonic eddies are generated northeast of the Balearic Islands. These results are in good agreement with mesoscale activity inferred from satellite altimetric data. This work demonstrates the feasibility of a down-scaling system composed of a general-circulation, a regional and a coastal model, which is one of the goals of the Mediterranean Forecasting System Pilot Project.
Key words. Oceanography: physical (currents; eddies and mesoscale processes; general circulation)