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Transport Properties in the Adriatic Sea as Deduced from Drifter Data

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  • 1 Instituto Universitario Navale, Naples, Italy
  • | 2 RSMAS, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, and IOF-CNR, La Spezia, Italy
  • | 3 Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California
  • | 4 Instituto Universitario Navale, Naples, Italy
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Abstract

The surface transport properties in the Adriatic Sea, a semienclosed subbasin of the Mediterranean Sea, have been studied using a drifter dataset in the period December 1994–March 1996. Three main points have been addressed. First, the exchange between southern and northern regions and between deep and coastal areas have been studied, focusing on the role of topography. A significant cross-topography or cross-shelf exchange has been found, probably due to the direct wind forcing and to the influence of stratification that isolates the surface flow from bottom effects, especially in the open sea. Second, a Lagrangian transport model with parameters derived from the data has been implemented. Simulated particles have been compared with drifter data with positive results. The model is found to be able to reproduce reality with good approximation, except for a specific advective event during the late summer season. Finally, the residence timescale T, that is, the average time spent by a surface particle in the basin, has been estimated. Direct estimates from the data suggest T ≈ 70–90 days, but these values are biased due to the finite lifetime of the drifters. Model results have been used to estimate the bias, and they suggest a “true” value of T ≈ 200 days.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Pierre-Marie Poulain, Department of Oceanography, Naval Postgraduate School, Code OC/Pn, Monterey, CA 93943-5000.

Email: poulain@oc.nps.navy.mil

Abstract

The surface transport properties in the Adriatic Sea, a semienclosed subbasin of the Mediterranean Sea, have been studied using a drifter dataset in the period December 1994–March 1996. Three main points have been addressed. First, the exchange between southern and northern regions and between deep and coastal areas have been studied, focusing on the role of topography. A significant cross-topography or cross-shelf exchange has been found, probably due to the direct wind forcing and to the influence of stratification that isolates the surface flow from bottom effects, especially in the open sea. Second, a Lagrangian transport model with parameters derived from the data has been implemented. Simulated particles have been compared with drifter data with positive results. The model is found to be able to reproduce reality with good approximation, except for a specific advective event during the late summer season. Finally, the residence timescale T, that is, the average time spent by a surface particle in the basin, has been estimated. Direct estimates from the data suggest T ≈ 70–90 days, but these values are biased due to the finite lifetime of the drifters. Model results have been used to estimate the bias, and they suggest a “true” value of T ≈ 200 days.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Pierre-Marie Poulain, Department of Oceanography, Naval Postgraduate School, Code OC/Pn, Monterey, CA 93943-5000.

Email: poulain@oc.nps.navy.mil

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