Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 66, Issue 11, pp 1529–1542 | Cite as

Assessment of the coastal dynamics in a nested zoom and feedback on the boundary current: the North-Western Mediterranean Sea case

  • Amandine Declerck
  • Yann Ourmières
  • Anne Molcard
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on the 47th International Liège Colloquium on Ocean Dynamics, Liège, Belgium, 4-8 May 2015


The Northern Current (hereafter NC), the major current in the North-Western Mediterranean (hereafter NWM) basin, has been largely investigated in the litterature for its mesoscale features. Its behaviour in the Var region can strongly condition the downstream flow along the Gulf of Lions shelf and Spain coast, making this zone a key area. However, the sub-mesoscale dynamics of the area and its potential impacts on the rest of the flow are not well known. This work reveals the potential interest of better simulating high-resolution dynamics in a restricted area and how this could improve the circulation representation in a larger area. To address this question, a very high resolution configuration (1/192) nested in an already existing high-resolution configuration (1/64) has been developed, using the NEMO model. Comparisons with observations show that the very high-resolution changes only weakly the mean NC characteristics but can significantly modify individual mesoscale events such as eddies and meanders occurring in the zoomed area. Furthermore, the coastal dynamics and episodic intrusions of a NC secondary branch inside a semi-enclosed bay appear to be significantly enhanced. In a second stage, the assessment of the feedback of this improved dynamics on the regional mesoscale dynamics is shown, this being allowed by the two-way coupling option of the embedded configuration using AGRIF.


North-Western Mediterranean Sea Northern Current Mesoscale impact NEMO AGRIF nesting Two-way coupling 



This study is a contribution to the MAREMED project, supported by LEFE-GMMC programme and to the CADOR project, financed by Toulon Provence Mediterranée. The calculations were performed using NEC-SX8 from GENCI-IDRIS resources (Grants 2015011707). Declerck A. PhD grants is supported by the French Ministry of Research. The authors acknowledge the MISTRALS/HyMeX, MERMeX and MOOSE database teams (ESPRI/IPSL and SEDOO/Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées) for their help in accessing the glider data and the Coriolis project and programmes that contribute to it ( for having collected and made freely available the data. ADCP data are distributed by the French INSU within the SAVED project and SST product by the MyOcean project. The authors also wish to thank Mercator-Océan and Météo-France for providing numerical data and A. Petrenko for kindly providing the JULIO ADCP mooring data.

The authors wish to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions that greatly helped to improve the manuscript.


  1. Albérola C, Millot C (2003) Circulation in the French Mediterranean coastal zone near Marseilles: the influence of wind and the Northern current. Cont Shelf Res 23(6):587–610CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Albérola C, Millot C, Font J (1995) On the seasonal and mesoscale variabilities of the Northern Current during the PRIMO-0 experiment in the western Mediterranean-sea. Oceanol Acta 18(2):163–192Google Scholar
  3. André G, Garreau P, Fraunie P (2009) Mesoscale slope current variability in the Gulf of Lions. Interpretation of in-situ measurements using a three-dimensional model. Cont Shelf Res 29(27):407–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Astraldi M, Gasparini GP (1992) The seasonal characteristics of the circulation in the north Mediterranean basin and their relationship with the atmospheric-climatic conditions. J Geophys Res Oceans (1978–2012) 97(C6):9531–9540CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Astraldi M, Gasparini GP, Manzella GR, Hopkins TS (1990) Temporal variability of currents in the Eastern Ligurian Sea. J Geophys Res Oceans (1978–2012) 95(C2):1515–1522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Auclair F, Marsaleix P, Estournel C (2001) The penetration of the Northern Current over the Gulf of Lions (Mediterranean) as a downscalling problem. Oceanol Acta 24(6):529–544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barrier N, Petrenko A, Ourmières Y (2016) Strong intrusions of the northern mediterranean current on the eastern gulf of lion: insights from in-situ observations and high resolution numerical modeling. Ocean Dyn 66(3):313–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Barth A, Alvera-Azcárate A, Rixen M, Beckers JM (2005) Two-way nested model of mesoscale circulation features in the Ligurian Sea. Prog Oceanogr 66(2):171–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Berné S, Carré D, Loubrieu B, Mazé JP, Morvan L, Normand A (2004) Le Golfe du Lion - Carte morpho-bathymétrique. Ifremer/Conseil Régional du Languedoc-RoussillonGoogle Scholar
  10. Bethoux JP, Prieur L, Nyffeler F (1982) The water circulation in the North-Western Mediterranean Sea, its relations with wind and atmospheric pressure. Elsevier Ocean Seres 34:129–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Beuvier J, Brossier CL, Béranger K, Arsouze T, Bourdalle-Badie R, Deltel C, Drillet Y, Drobinski P, Ferry N, Lyard F et al (2012) MED12, oceanic component for the modeling of the regional Mediterranean Earth System. Mercator Ocean Q Newsl 46:60– 66Google Scholar
  12. Blanke B, Delecluse P (1993) Variability of the tropical Atlantic Ocean simulated by a general circulation model with two different mixed-layer physics. J Phys Oceanogr 23(7):1363–1388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cailleau S, Fedorenko V, Barnier B, Blayo E, Debreu L (2008) Comparison of different numerical methods used to handle the open boundary of a regional ocean circulation model of the Bay of Biscay. Ocean Model 25(1-2):1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chanut J (2003) Paramétrisation de la restratification après convection profonde en mer du Labrador. PhD thesis, Université Joseph Fourier - GrenobleGoogle Scholar
  15. Chanut J, Barnier B, Large W, Debreu L, Penduff T, Molines JM, Mathiot P (2008) Mesoscale eddies in the Labrador Sea and their contribution to convection and restratification. J Phys Oceanogr 38(8):1617–1643CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Conan P, Millot C (1995) Variability of the northern current off marseilles, western mediterranean sea, from february to june 1992. Oceanol Acta 18(2):193–205Google Scholar
  17. Courant R, Friedrichs K, Lewy H (1967) On the partial difference equations of mathematical physics. IBM J Res Dev 11(2):215– 234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Debreu L, Vouland C, Blayo E (2008) AGRIF: adaptive grid refinement in Fortran. Comput Geosci 34 (1):8–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Debreu L, Marchesiello P, Penven P, Cambon G (2012) Two-way nesting in split-explicit ocean models: algorithms, implementation and validation. Ocean Model 49:1–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Durrieu de Madron X, Radakovitch O, Heussner S, Loye-Pilot MD, Monaco A (1999) Role of the climatoligical and current variability on shelf-slope exchanges of particulate matter: evidence from the Rhone continental margin (NW Mediterranean). Deep-Sea Res I Oceanogr Res Pap 46(9):1513–1538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Flexas MM, de Madron XD, Garcia MA, Canals M, Arnau P (2002) Flow variability in the Gulf of Lions during the MATER HFF experiment (March-May 1997). J Marine Sys 33:197–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Guihou K (2013) Étude de la dynamique du Courant Nord au large de Toulon, à l’aide de modèle, observations in-situ et données satellites. PhD thesis, Université de ToulonGoogle Scholar
  23. Guihou K, Marmain J, Ourmières Y, Molcard A, Zakardjian B, Forget P (2013) A case study of the mesoscale dynamics in the north-western mediterranean sea: a combined data–model approach. Ocean Dyn 63 (7):793–808CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gurgel K, Antonischki G, Essen HH, Schlick T (1999) Wellen Radar (WERA): a new ground-wave HF radar for ocean remote sensing. Coast Eng 37(3):219–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Juza M, Mourre B, Lellouche JM, Tonani M, Tintore J (2015) From basin to sub-basin scale assessment and intercomparison of numerical simulations in the Western Mediterranean Sea. J Marine Sys 149:36–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lapouyade A, Durrieu de Madron X (2001) Seasonal variability of the advective transport of particulate matter and organic carbon in the Gulf of Lion (NW Mediterranean). Oceanol Acta 24(3):295–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Large WG, Yeager SG (2004) Diurnal to decadal global forcing for ocean and sea-ice models: the data sets and flux climatologies. NCAR/TN-460+STR, NCAR TECHNICAL NOTEGoogle Scholar
  28. Lipa B, Nyden B, Ullman D, Terrill E (2006) SeaSonde radial velocities: derivation and internal consistency. IEEE J Ocean Eng 31(4):850–861CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lopez-Garcia M, Millot C, Font J, Garcia-Ladona E (1994) Surface circulation variability in the Balearic Basin. J Geophys Res 99:3285–3296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Madec G (2008) NEMO ocean engine. Online access: http://www.nemo-ocean eu
  31. Medimap Group (2005) Morpho-bathymetry of the Mediterranean Sea. CIESM/Ifremer Edition, 2 maps at 1/2000000Google Scholar
  32. Millot C (1987) Circulation in the western Mediterranean-sea. Oceanol Acta 10(2):143–149Google Scholar
  33. Millot C (1990) The gulf of Lions’ hydrodynamic. Cont Shelf Res 10(9):885–894CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Millot C (1999) Circulation in the western Mediterranean Sea. J Marine Sys 20(1):423–442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Molcard A, Poulain P, Forget P, Griffa A, Barbin Y, Gaggelli J, Maistre JD, Rixen M (2009) Comparison between VHF radar observations and data from drifter clusters in the Gulf of La Spezia (Mediterranean Sea). J Marine Sys 78:579–589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ourmières Y, Blankart JM, Berline L, Brasseur P, Verron J (2006) Incremental analysis update implementation into a sequential ocean data assimilation system. J Atmos Ocean Technol 23(12):1729–1744CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ourmières Y, Zakardjian B, Béranger K, Langlais C (2011) Assessment of a NEMO-based downscaling experiment for the North-Western Mediterranean region: impacts on the Northern Current and comparison with ADCP data and altimetry products. Ocean Model 39(3):386–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pairaud I, Gatti J, Bensoussan N, Verney R, Garreau P (2011) Hydrology and circulation in a coastal area off Marseille: validation of a nested 3D model with observations. J Marine Sys 88(1):20–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Petrenko A (2003) Variability of circulation features in the Gulf of Lion NW Mediterranean Sea. Importance of inertial currents. Oceanol Acta 26(4):323–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Roullet G, Madec G (2000) Salt conservation, free surface, and varying levels: a new formulation for ocean general circulation models. J Geophys Res Oceans (1978–2012) 105(C10):23,927–23,942CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rubio A, Taillandier V, Garreau P (2009) Reconstruction of the Mediterranean northern current variability and associated cross-shel transport in the Gulf of Lions from satellite-tracked drifters and model outputs. J Marine Sys 78:S63–S78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sammari C, Millot C, Prieur L (1995) Aspects of the seasonal and mesoscale variabilities of the Northern Current in the western Mediterranean Sea inferred from the PROLIG-2 and PROS-6 experiments. Deep-Sea Res I Oceanogr Res Pap 42(6):893–917CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Taupier-Letage I, Millot C (1986) General hydrodynamic features in the Ligurian Sea inferred from the DYOME experiment. Oceanol Acta 9(2):119–132Google Scholar
  44. Tréguier AM, Barnier B, De Miranda AP, Molines JM, Grima N, Imbard M, Madec G, Messager C, Reynaud T, Michel S (2001) An eddy-permitting model of the Atlantic circulation: evaluating open boundary conditions (paper 2000jc000376). J Geophys Res-All Series 106(10; SECT 3):22,115–22,129CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amandine Declerck
    • 1
  • Yann Ourmières
    • 2
  • Anne Molcard
    • 2
  1. 1.Université de Toulon, CNRS/INSU, IRD, Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO)La GardeFrance
  2. 2.Aix Marseille Université, CNRS/INSU, IRD, Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO)MarseilleFrance

Personalised recommendations