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Open Access item Lagrangian transport through an ocean front in the North-Western Mediterranean Sea

Authors:Mancho, Ana M.
Hernández-García, Emilio
Small, Des
Wiggins, Stephen
Fernández, Vicente
Keywords:Mediterranean Sea, Lobe dynamics, Transport, Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics
Issue Date:Jun-2008
Publisher:American Meteorological Society
Allen Press
Citation:Journal of Physical Oceanography 38(6): 1222-1237 (2008)
Abstract:With the tools of lobe dynamics, the authors analyze the structures present in the velocity field obtained from a numerical simulation of the surface circulation in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea. In particular, focus is placed on the North Balearic Front, the westernmost part of the transition zone between saltier and fresher waters in the western Mediterranean, which is here interpreted in terms of the presence of a semipermanent “Lagrangian barrier,” across which little transport occurs. Identified are relevant hyperbolic trajectories and their manifolds, and it is shown that the transport mechanism known as the turnstile, previously identified in abstract dynamical systems and simplified model flows, is also at work in this complex and realistic ocean flow. In addition, nonlinear dynamics techniques are shown to be powerful enough to identify the key geometric structures in this part of the Mediterranean. The construction also reveals the spatiotemporal routes along which this transport happens. Topological changes in that picture, which are associated with the crossing by eddies and may be interpreted as the breakdown of the front, are also observed during the simulation.
Description:16 pages, 6 figures.-- ArXiv pre-print available at: http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0608105
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