Climate Dynamics

, Volume 44, Issue 3–4, pp 1029–1051 | Cite as

Regional mesoscale air–sea coupling impacts and extreme meteorological events role on the Mediterranean Sea water budget

  • Cindy Lebeaupin BrossierEmail author
  • Sophie Bastin
  • Karine Béranger
  • Philippe Drobinski


The Mediterranean Sea water budget (MWB) is a key parameter, as it controls the Mediterranean Sea water loss and thus the Atlantic Water inflow and the Mediterranean general circulation. More accurately, the MWB controls the net flow through the Strait of Gibraltar, which implies both inflow and outflow. Generally considered at the basin scale and over long-term periods, the MWB is in fact characterized by a large variability in space and time, induced by the complex topography of the region, mesoscale processes and (short) intense events in the ocean and atmosphere compartments. In this study, we use an ocean-atmosphere coupled system at mesoscale able to represent such phenomena, to evaluate the MWB atmospheric components: Evaporation (E) and Precipitation (P). We compare two companion regional simulations: an uncoupled atmospheric run using the ERA-interim Sea Surface Temperature (SST) reanalysis and a coupled run using the MORCE system with the two-way coupling between the NEMO-MED12 eddy-resolving ocean model and the non-hydrostatic Weather Research and Forecasting atmospheric model. We first evaluate the SST validity against satellite data and evidence the coupled system ability in representing SST mesoscale structures, characteristics of the Mediterranean circulation and of small-scale ocean processes, despite a colder mean value and a lower amplitude of the annual cycle. Then, the comparison aims to examine the coupled processes effects (meaning the impacts of the interactive high-resolution and high-frequency SST) on E and P and on their variability. The comparison highlights that the SST is the controlling factor for E and P budgets, with reduction by 6 and 3 % in the coupled run compared to the uncoupled run, respectively. The modifications propagate until 750 km inland far from the Mediterranean coast, as towards the Atlantic Ocean and the Black Sea. This indicates that coupling plays a major role in distributing water at mesoscale. The coupling directly modifies the seasonal variability. It also significantly decreases extreme evaporation and precipitation occurences and intensities. This extreme events mitigation in the coupled run contributes for ~50 % to the decrease in the E and P budgets.


Air–sea coupling Extreme events HyMeX Med-CORDEX Mediterranean Sea MORCE Water budget 



This work is a contribution to the MORCE-MED project funded by the GIS “Climat, Environnement et Société”. This work also contributes to the HyMeX program (HYdrological cycle in The Mediterranean EXperiment— through INSU-MISTRALS support, to the Med-CORDEX initiative (A COordinated Regional climate Downscaling EXperiment—Mediterranean region—, to the MED-ICCBIO project (funded by the GIS “Climat, Environnement et Société”) and to the SiMed project (Simulation of the Mediterranean Sea) funded by the “Groupe Mission Mercator Coriolis” program, with granted access to the HPC resources of IDRIS/GENCI (under allocation i2011010227). The authors are very grateful to Jonathan Beuvier, Guillaume Samson (Mercator-Océan), Sébastien Masson, Gurvan Madec (LOCEAN), Sophie Valcke, Laure Coquart and Eric Maisonnave (CERFACS) for their useful collaboration in the development of ocean-atmosphere coupling (WRF-OASIS-NEMO) within the MORCE system. The authors also gratefully acknowledge the Climserv team from IPSL who provides us the ERA-interim reanalysis and collects the HOAPS product, the Gruppo di Oceanografia da Satellite (GOS/ISAC-CNR) with ENEA who freely provide the OISST reanalysis from the MFSTEP project. The authors acknowledge Ségolène Berthou, Sylvain Mailler (LMD) and Thomas Arsouze (ENSTA-Paristech) for fruitful discussions during the review process. Cindy Lebeaupin Brossier finally thanks Samuel Somot and Sophie Belamari (GAME-CNRM/GMGEC) who allow the finalization of this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cindy Lebeaupin Brossier
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sophie Bastin
    • 2
  • Karine Béranger
    • 3
  • Philippe Drobinski
    • 4
  1. 1.Groupe d’études de l’Atmosphère Météorologique - Centre National de Recherches Météorologiques (GAME-CNRM)CNRS UMR3589/Météo-FranceToulouse CedexFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire Atmosphères Milieux Observations Spatiales (LATMOS)CNRS UMR8190/UVSQ/UPMCGuyancourtFrance
  3. 3.Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Techniques Avancées (ENSTA) - ParisTech, Unité de Mécanique (UME)PalaiseauFrance
  4. 4.Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (LMDCNRS UMR8539/Ecole Polytechnique/ENS/UPMCPalaiseauFrance

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