1CIIMAR-Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, Rua dos Bragas, 289, 4050-123 Porto, Portugal
2CCM-Center for Mathematical Sciences, University of Madeira, Campus da Penteada, 9000-390, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
3CIMA Research Foundation, Via Armando Magliotto, 2-17100 Savona, Italy
4CNR-ISMAR, Institute of Marine Science, Forte Santa Teresa, Pozzuolo di Lerici, 19032 La Spezia, Italy
Abstract. A high-resolution ocean circulation modelling system forced with a high-resolution numerical wind product was used to study the mesoscale and sub-mesoscale eddy population of the North-Western Mediterranean Sea, contrasting eddy-activity between the Tyrrhenian and Ligurian sub-basins. Numerical solutions reproduced some of the known regional dynamics, namely the occurrence and oceanic implications of Mistral events, the convective cell leeward of the Gulf of Lion, as well as the Balearic frontal system. Calculated transport across the Corsica Channel followed a similar trend, when compared to the transport computed from a moored current meter. The analysis of the results showed that surface eddy activity is mostly confined to the boundary-currents, whereas in the deeper layers most eddies are concentrated on the central-deeper part of the basins. The Liguro-Provençal basin shows a much higher concentration of intermediate and deep-water eddies, when compared to the Tyrrhenian basin. Sub-mesoscale surface eddies tend to merge and migrate vertically onto intermediate waters. Intense eddy activity in the boundary-current surrounding the Liguro-Provençal Gyre, concentrate high-productivity, manifested by higher concentrations of mean sea surface chlorophyll, in the central part of the gyre, defined herein as the Ligurian Productive Pool (LPP). On average, the Tyrrhenian was mostly oligotrophic except for a small productive vortice in the south-eastern (leeward) side of Corsica. The transport in the Tyrrhenian Gyre, and across the basin is one order of magnitude higher than the transport calculated for the Liguro-Provençal basin. A high concentration of eddies in the passage between the Balearic Archipelago and Sardinia suggests retention and longer residence times of nutrient rich water in the "Ligurian pool", compared to a "fast draining" Tyrrhenian basin. Previous studies support the cyclonic gyre circulation generated in the Liguro-Provençal basin but more studies are needed to address the surface and deep mesoscale activity of the Tyrrhenian basin.