Mucilaginous aggregates in the northern Adriatic in the period 1999-2002: typology and distribution

Robert Precali, Michele Giani, Mauro Marini, Federica Grilli, Carla R Ferrari, Osvin Pecar, Elio Paschini
Science of the Total Environment 2005 December 15, 353 (1): 10-23
The spatial and temporal distributions of different types of visible mucilaginous aggregates were investigated monthly by underwater video cameras in the northern Adriatic (NA) from June 1999 to July 2002. Small aggregates (flocs, macroflocs and stringers) were observed in all seasons with higher values in autumn and winter. Larger aggregates (ribbons, cobwebs, clouds, and false bottoms) formed only during late-spring and summer, particularly in 2000 and 2002, when the seasonal thermohaline stratification was marked. In fact, the process of mucilage formation took place mainly in the upper water column, above the main pycnocline. The spatial distribution shows that higher concentrations of small aggregates occur in the more productive coastal waters. The larger aggregates form or accumulate mainly in coastal waters in the southern part of the NA and in the central part of the Po River delta-Rovinj transect, where a gyre greatly influences the aggregates distribution. The fronts between low salinity coastal waters and high salinity waters of southern origin play an important role for accumulation and aggregation of the mucilage during spring and summer. Most of the aggregates accumulate in correspondence with strong pycnoclines with differences in density anomaly of 2 kg m(-3) or higher. False bottoms formed in correspondence with strong haloclines (DeltaS congruent with 2), while cobwebs and ribbons also occurred when the halocline was less marked (DeltaS<0.5). Meteorological conditions greatly influenced the aggregate formation. Calm weather and weak winds favour aggregation processes, while strong north-easterly winds, causing intense mixing, result in the dispersion of the mucilaginous aggregates, as occurred during the Bora event in July 2000.

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