Recent observations of seasonal variability of the Mediterranean outflow in the Strait of Gibraltar

J. García Lafuente, A. Sánchez Román, G. Díaz del Río, G. Sannino, J.C. Sánchez Garrido

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Recent observations of the outflowing Mediterranean water collected near the bottom in key points of the Strait of Gibraltar show the existence of a seasonal cycle with warmer and lighter waters leaving the Mediterranean Sea in winter and cooler and denser waters in spring early summer. The amplitude of the signal is around 5 10-2°C for potential temperature and 1.5 10-2for potential density, salinity hardly showing seasonal fluctuations. The outflow also shows a seasonal cycle with maximum volume transport in April, in coincidence with the minimum of the signal of potential temperature. A simple analysis of the composition of the outflow in terms of the main water masses of the western Mediterranean basin and its comparison with climate indicators suggests that the seasonal cycle follows the annual process of the Western Mediterranean Deep Water formation that replenish the deep portion of the basin by the end of winter and rises the level of the deep water reservoir, facilitating the suction of cooler and denser water from the Mediterranean over the sills of the Strait. From this time onwards, the data show a smooth warming that would be explained by the progressive fall of the level of the Western Mediterranean Deep Water as it is drained out the Mediterranean, which would leave warmer water available for suction. The process is asymmetric in the sense that the transition from high to low temperature is completed in a short period while the progressive warming spans a longer period. Copyright 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberC10005
Pages (from-to)-
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Forestry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Palaeontology

Cite this

García Lafuente, J., Sánchez Román, A., Díaz del Río, G., Sannino, G., & Sánchez Garrido, J. C. (2007). Recent observations of seasonal variability of the Mediterranean outflow in the Strait of Gibraltar. Journal of Geophysical Research, 112(10), -. [C10005].