||Larnicol Gilles, Le Traon Pierre-Yves, Ayoub N, Demey P
||CNRS, OCEANOG & GEOPHYS LAB, F-31055 TOULOUSE, FRANCE.
||Journal Of Geophysical Research-oceans (0148-0227) (Amer Geophysical Union), 1995-12 , Vol. 100 , N. C12 , P. 25163-25177
|WOS© Times Cited
||We describe the circulation and mean sea lever variations of the Mediterranean Sea from 2 years of TOPEX/POSEIDON altimetric data. It is first shown that the response of the Mediterranean Sea to atmospheric pressure forcing is close to an inverse barometer (except at high frequencies) which means that the adjustment is accompanied by a flow through the Straits of Sicily and Gibraltar. We then use TOPEX/POSEIDON to study the mean sea level variations, representing steric effects and integrated large-scale changes of the mass of the Mediterranean Sea. We observe an annual cycle with a fast drop during winter, Steric effects account for about half of the observed variations. The remaining signal is believed to be driven by evaporation minus precipitation (E - P) forcing and internal hydraulic control in the Straits of Gibraltar. Using suboptimal space-time objective analysis, the classic components of the Mediterranean surface circulation are recovered, despite low signal-to-noise ratio (the rms of sea level variability is less than 10 cm). The variable Mediterranean circulation is seen as a complex combination of mesoscale and large-scale variations. The surface circulation is more complex in the eastern basin than in the western basin. In the east it is composed of subbasin-scale gyres, such as the so-called Mersa-Matruh and Shikmona gyres, which do not have an obvious recurrence period. We also observe an intensification of the large-scale cyclonic winter circulation in the western and in the Ionian basins. Several mesoscale structures, such as the Alboran gyres and the lerepetra gyre, show a clear seasonal cycle, with a maximum in summer. The good qualitative and quantitative agreement of the results with previous data from the Mediterranean illustrates the improved accurary of TOPEX/POSEIDON over its predecessors.
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