Response of the Adriatic Sea to the atmospheric anomaly in 2003
Abstract. Unusual weather conditions over the southern Europe and the Mediterranean area in 2003 significantly impacted the oceanographic properties of the Adriatic Sea. To document these changes, both in the atmosphere and the sea, anomalies from the normal climate were calculated. The winter 2003 was extremely cold, whereas the spring/summer period was extremely warm. The air temperature in June was more than 3 standard deviations above the average. On the other hand, precipitation and river runoff were extremely low between February and August. The response of the sea was remarkable, especially in surface salinity during spring and summer, with values at least one standard deviation above the average. Analysis of thermohaline properties in the middle Adriatic showed the importance of two phenomena responsible for the occurrence of exceptionally high salinity: (1) enhanced inflow of saline Levantine Intermediate Water (LIW) in the Adriatic, and (2) extremely low precipitation and river runoff, accompanied with strong evaporation. Two large-scale atmospheric indices: NAOI (North Atlantic Oscillation Index) and MOI (Mediterranean Oscillation Index), although generally correlated to the Adriatic climate, failed to describe anomalies in 2003. The air pressure gradients used for the definition of both indices significantly decreased in 2003 due to the presence of the high pressure areas over most of Europe and the northern Atlantic, and were actually responsible for the observed anomalies above and in the Adriatic.