Sub-inertial variability in the Cretan Sea from the M3A buoy
Abstract. One year of continuous records of temperature, salinity data at various depths, and currents obtained from by an upward looking acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) moored at a site in the Cretan Sea were analyzed. Temperature and salinity data revealed the influence of a multi-scale circulation pattern prevailing in this area. This pattern consists of mesoscale cyclonic and anticyclonic vortices moving together as a dipole, and inducing downwelling and upwelling in the water column. The dipole movements, which control the circulation in the area, have been evidenced from horizontal current variability in the upper 250 m. The basin-scale circulation also shows a prominent seasonal variability. The Empirical Orthogonal Function analysis applied to either zonal or meridional components of the currents, confirmed the prevalence of a depth-independent mode over the baroclinic-like one for the whole period of measurements and for both current components. Nevertheless, the depth-dependent structure indicated the out-of-phase behaviour of the upper 250 m layer with respect to the deeper one. The first mode of the temperature EOF analysis, which accounts for most of the variance, represents the seasonal heating of the water column being principally associated with the surface mixed layer at the level of the seasonal thermocline.
Key words. Oceanography: physical (currents, eddies and mesoscale processes, general circulation)