Modelling the Gibraltar Strait/Western Alboran Sea ecohydrodynamics
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- Skliris, N. & Beckers, J. Ocean Dynamics (2009) 59: 489. doi:10.1007/s10236-009-0185-6
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The ecohydrodynamics of the Gibraltar Strait and the Western Alboran Sea is investigated using a 3-D, two-way nested, coupled hydrodynamic/plankton ecosystem model, exploiting the MEDATLAS climatological database. A high-resolution model (~1 km) of the Gibraltar/Western Alboran region embedded within a coarse-resolution model of the West Mediterranean (~5 km) is implemented. The model seasonal climatology of the 3-D circulation and the flow characteristics at the Gibraltar Strait and the Alboran Sea are discussed, and their impact on the plankton ecosystem evolution is explored. An important ecohydrodynamic feature produced by the model is a permanent upwelling zone in the northwestern part of the Alboran Sea in agreement with observations. Model results show that both horizontal and vertical current intensity of the Atlantic Jet increases progressively at the strait to obtain maximum values in the northeastern Mediterranean entrance, inducing an upward displacement of the nitracline. The nutrient-rich water transport through the strait along with the generation of cyclonic vorticity in the northwestern Alboran Sea result in the accumulation of nutrients there and thus induce a permanent fertilisation of this area.