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Extreme air-sea interactions in the Gulf of Trieste (North Adriatic) during the Strong Bora Event in Winter 2012

October 2, 2013

From late January to mid-February 2012 the Gulf of Trieste (North Adriatic Sea) was affected by a severe winter weather event characterized by cold air and strong northeasterly wind (Bora). The atmospheric forcing caused large surface heat fluxes which produced remarkable effects on the gulf, particularly the production of a very cold and dense water mass. Temperatures as low as 4 °C were observed in the deepest part of the gulf, similar to that which was observed in winter 1929, which was probably the most severe winter in the region over more than a century. The density anomaly attained values up to 30.58 kg m-3, even greater than in 1929. Surface heat fluxes were estimated using bulk formulas and the meteorological and marine observations available at three stations. Mean daily heat losses exceeded 1000 W m-2. A comparison of this event with similar past events was made using proxy heat fluxes, available since 1978, to account for the air-sea interactions, and using temperature and salinity observations, performed since 1996, to account for the effect of heat fluxes on ocean properties. The 2012 Bora episode turned out to be the most severe event of this kind in the Gulf of Trieste for at least the last 35 years, and is comparable to that which occurred in 1929. A significant linear correlation was also found between the total surface heat loss and the density increase of the waters in the part of the gulf deeper than 20 m.

F. Raicich, Malačič V, Celio M Giaiotti D, Cantoni C, Colucci R R, , Čermelj B, Pucillo A, in press. Extreme air-sea interactions in the Gulf of Trieste (North Adriatic) during the Strong Bora Event in Winter 2012, Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 2013, doi:10.1002/jgrc.20398. Article (subscription required).

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