Mesoscale slope current variability in the Gulf of Lions. Interpretation of in-situ measurements using a three-dimensional model

Type Article
Date 2009-02
Language English
Author(s) Andre Gael1, Garreau PierreORCID1, Fraunie Philippe2
Affiliation(s) 1 : IFREMER, DYNECO, PHYSED, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
2 : Univ Sud Toulvon Var, CNRS, UMR 6017, Lab Sondages Electromagnet Environm Terr, F-83957 La Garde, France.
Source Continental Shelf Research (0278-4343) (Elsevier), 2009-02 , Vol. 29 , N. 2 , P. 407-423
DOI 10.1016/j.csr.2008.10.004
WOS© Times Cited 24
Keyword(s) Numerical modeling, Mesoscale variability, Slope Current, Northern Current, Gulf of Lions, Northwestern Mediterranean Sea
Abstract The ECOLOPHY experiments aimed at investigating physical exchanges between coastal and open sea. They were carried out in June and December 2005 over the shelf-break in the North-eastern part of the Gulf of Lions (Northwestern Mediterranean Sea). This area is considered to be the generation zone for the eddy and meandering structures of the Northern Current (NC). The objective of the present work is to examine mesoscale variability of this coastal slope current in the light of available data. Numerical modeling is used to support the field data analysis. ADCP current measurements over a one-year period show that mesoscale activity is maximal in late winter, correlating with the seasonal variability of the NC and, also, partly with local winds, Measured currents exhibit mesoscale fluctuations with periods ranging from 3 to 30 days, in agreement with previous analyses. Fluctuations of periods longer than 10 days are found to be mainly oriented in the direction of the mean current, whereas more frequently observed high frequency fluctuations tend to be oriented cross-slope, suggesting a relationship with the NC mesoscale meandering. Moreover, trajectories of surdrift buoys launched in the NC vein exhibit mesoscale phenomena, such as current meanders or eddies and on-shelf intrusions. Numerical modeling provides a synoptic point of view and is used hereafter to support physical interpretation of punctual eulerian or lagrangian measurements. Therefore, modeled hydrodynamic fields are used to analyze surdrift buoy trajectories and Computed vertically averaged current and Ertel potential vorticity provide a better understanding of these behaviors. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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