Articles | Volume 24, issue 2
23 Mar 2006
 | 23 Mar 2006

The anomalous warming of summer 2003 in the surface layer of the Central Ligurian Sea (Western Mediterranean)

S. Sparnocchia, M. E. Schiano, P. Picco, R. Bozzano, and A. Cappelletti

Abstract. Meteorological and sea temperature data from the ODAS Italia 1 buoy (Ligurian Sea, Western Mediterranean) are used to study the anomalous warming of summer 2003 at sea. The event was related to the record heat wave that interested much of Europe from June to September of that year. The data show that the anomalous warming was prevalently confined to within a few meters below the sea surface. On the contrary, the temperatures in the underlying layers were lower than usual. The limited vertical propagation of heat is ascribed to the high temperature difference that arose between the surface and the deeper layers due to protracted calm weather conditions. The degree of penetration of heat deduced from the observations is consistent with that computed on the basis of an energetic argument, wherein the wind constitutes the sole supply of kinetic energy, while the heating is viewed as the source of potential energy that must be "subtracted" by mixing. The results support the hypothesis that the scanty energy from the wind is mainly responsible for the development of the temperature anomaly at the sea surface.