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The importance of sub-mesoscale processes for the exchange of properties through the Strait of Gibraltar

September 5, 2013

This article presents a detailed analysis of the sub-mesoscale transport processes in the Strait of Gibraltar. The interest is focussed on the Camarinal Sill region, and special attention is paid to the across-strait transport processes, the divergences and convergences in the central zone, and the small-scale circulation patterns along the northern coastal margin. The analysis is based on high-resolution (7 m) SST images acquired by an air-borne hyper-spectral scanner, and has been complemented with a rhodamine-release experiment, continuous thermo-salinograph records, acoustic Doppler current (ADCP) profiles from both moorings and vessel-mounted experiments, and numerical modelling. It is deduced from the analysis that the coupling between the upwelling processes, induced by the internal tide and the generation of large-amplitude internal waves, and the cyclonic eddies formed on the coastal margin, seems to be the mechanism that explains the chlorophyll maxima frequently found on the coastal margin of the studied area. Further, as a consequence of the small-scale patterns of circulation induced by the internal waves, the suspended substances are displaced from the coastal margins toward the central zones and later are carried by the westward current toward the convergence zones created by the internal waves, where they may be retained and accumulate. Then, in the eastward phase of the tidal current over the Camarinal Sill, these nuclei of concentrated substances (nutrients, chlorophyll, and plankton) are transported toward the Alboran Sea, where they must contribute, in part, to the primary productivity there.

Bruno M, Chioua J, Romero J, Vázquez A, et al., 2013, The importance of sub-mesoscale processes for the exchange of properties through the Strait of Gibraltar, Progress in Oceanography, 116, 66–79. Article.

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