Circulation and horizontal fluxes in the northern Adriatic Sea in the period June 1999-July 2002. Part I: geostrophic circulation and current measurement

Federica Grilli, Elio Paschini, Robert Precali, Aniello Russo, Nastjenjka Supić
Science of the Total Environment 2005 December 15, 353 (1): 57-67
The dramatic increase in the occurrence of massive mucilage events in the northern Adriatic (NA) since their recent conspicuous reappearance in the late 1980s prompted a study of circulation and horizontal fluxes. Three transects with equidistant stations (10 km) were thus monitored monthly between June 1999 and July 2002. The geostrophic method was used to compute currents across the three transects from the CTD data, and dynamic heights provided a picture of the horizontal surface circulation. Currentmeter data records were used to adjust the reference surface and to validate the results for the southernmost and deeper (up to 70 m) transect (Senigallia-Susak Island). Geostrophic currents allowed estimation of monthly water fluxes across the transect. Different circulation regimes in the NA were observed, which may have affected mucilage events. When mucilage was absent (1999) or reduced (2001) in the western sector, the Western Adriatic Current (WAC, carrying water out of the NA) was found to be active, whilst the WAC was very weak or reversed when massive mucilage events occurred (2000 and 2002). Opposite behaviour has been observed for the Istrian Coastal Counter-Current (ICCC, retaining freshwater water in the NA) which was more intense during or after massive mucilage events and did not appear when mucilage was absent. Both WAC weakening and ICCC strengthening indicate a longer residence time of riverine waters in the NA, which favours mucilage development. Conclusively, WAC and ICCC result as key elements in controlling massive mucilage phenomena in the NA.

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