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A simple estuarine model for the Mediterranean Sea during glacial-interglacial cycles

AuthorsPelegrí, Josep Lluís ; Florindo-López, Cristián
Issue Date26-Nov-2013
CitationIntegrating New Advances in Mediterranean Oceanography and Marine Biology. Meeting program: 16 (2013)
AbstractWe examine the main drivers for changes in salinity and temperature within the Mediterranean Sea during glacial-interglacial cycles. For this purpose we consider the Mediterranean Sea as a well-mixed estuary where water, salt and heat are exchanged with the Atlantic Ocean as a two-layer flux through the Strait of Gibraltar. At each time we request the Mediterranean water level to follow an idealized glacial-interglacial cycle, driven by the exchange with the Atlantic Ocean, which is equivalent to imposing a balance between river discharge, precipitation and evaporation over the Mediterranean basin and the net water exchange through the Strait of Gibraltar. The net heat and salt transport into the Mediterranean, however, are driven not only by this changing level but also by the differences in temperature and salinity between the Mediterranean and Atlantic basins and the two-layer exchange through the Strait of Gibraltar. For example, net water evaporation in the Mediterranean basin (evaporation greater than precipitation plus river discharge) always acts as a cooler and salt concentrator within this basin because of the compensating input of relatively cold and salty water through Gibraltar. We may complete our set of equations by imposing the temperature and salinity values in the Atlantic Ocean and by assuming that the two-layer flow through the Strait of Gibraltar adjusts to the maximum possible transport for the intruding bottom gravity current (either be Mediterranean or Atlantic water). We discuss the implications from these equations and present some preliminary results that arise solely from water and salt balance considerations. The results place some constraints on the relations between the Mediterranean-Atlantic salinity difference and the water transports that enter and leave the Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar, which may be compared with the available paleoceanographic evidence. Those conditions that correspond to the denser Mediterranean outflow water are identified and the stability of the Mediterranean outflow is finally assessed through the calculation of a two-layer Richardson number
DescriptionSymposium on Integrating New Advances in Mediterranean Oceanography and Marine Biology, 26-29 November 2013, Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC), Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain
Publisher version (URL)http://www.icm.csic.es/bio/medocean/information.htm#schedule
Appears in Collections:(ICM) Comunicaciones congresos
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