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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2018-57
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 04 Jun 2018

Research article | 04 Jun 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Ocean Science (OS).

Modelling study of transformations of the exchange flows along the Strait of Gibraltar

Antonio Sanchez-Roman1, Gabriel Jorda1, Gianmaria Sannino2, and Damia Gomis1 Antonio Sanchez-Roman et al.
  • 1IMEDEA (UIB-CSIC), Mallorca, Spain
  • 2Energy and Environmental Modeling Unit, ENEA, Italy

Abstract. Vertical transfers of heat, salt and mass between the inflowing and outflowing layers at the Strait of Gibraltar are explored basing on the outputs of a three-dimensional, fully non-linear numerical model. The model covers the entire Mediterranean basin and has a very high spatial resolution around the Strait (1/200°). Another distinctive feature of the model is that it includes a realistic barotropic tidal forcing (diurnal and semidiurnal), in addition to atmospheric pressure and heat and water surface fluxes. The results show a significant transformation of the properties of the inflowing and outflowing water masses along their path through the Strait. This transformation is mainly induced by the recirculation of water, and therefore of heat and salt, between the inflowing and outflowing layers. The underlying process seems to be the hydraulic control acting at the Espartel section, Camarinal Sill and Tarifa Narrows, which limits the amount of water than can cross the sections and forces a vertical recirculation. This results in a complex spatio-temporal pattern of vertical transfers, with the sign of the net vertical transfer being opposite in each side of Camarinal Sill. Conversely, the mixing seems to have little influence on the heat and salt exchanged between layers (∼2–10% of advected heat/salt). Therefore, the main point of our work is that most of the transformation of water properties along the Strait is induced by the vertical advection of heat and salt and not by vertical mixing. A simple relationship between the net flux and the vertical transfers of water, heat and salt is also proposed. This relationship could be used for the fine tuning of coarse resolution model parameterizations in the Strait.

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This paper deals with the quantification of the vertical transfers of heat, salt and mass between the inflowing and outflowing layers at the Strait of Gibraltar from the outputs of a very high spatial resolution numerical model. As a novelty, the model is not only forced by realistic barotropic tides, but also by the atmospheric pressure and heat and water fluxes at the sea surface. This fact allows a realistic representation of the exchanges at the Strait.
This paper deals with the quantification of the vertical transfers of heat, salt and mass...
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