A review of the LATEX project: mesoscale to submesoscale processes in a coastal environment

Abstract

The main objective of the LAgrangian Transport EXperiment (LATEX) project was to study the influence of coastal mesoscale and submesoscale physical processes on circulation dynamics, cross-shelf exchanges, and biogeochemistry in the western continental shelf of the Gulf of Lion, Northwestern Mediterranean Sea. LATEX was a five-year multidisciplinary project based on the combined analysis of numerical model simulations and multi-platform field experiments. The model component included a ten-year realistic 3D numerical simulation, with a 1 km horizontal resolution over the gulf, nested in a coarser 3 km resolution model. The in situ component involved four cruises, including a large-scale multidisciplinary campaign with two research vessels in 2010. This review concentrates on the physics results of LATEX, addressing three main subjects: (1) the investigation of the mesoscale to submesoscale processes. The eddies are elliptic, baroclinic, and anticyclonic; the strong thermal and saline front is density compensated. Their generation processes are studied; (2) the development of sampling strategies for their direct observations. LATEX has implemented an adaptive strategy Lagrangian tool, with a reference software available on the web, to perform offshore campaigns in a Lagrangian framework; (3) the quantification of horizontal mixing and cross-shelf exchanges. Lateral diffusivity coefficients, calculated in various ways including a novel technique, are in the range classically encountered for their associated scales. Cross-shelf fluxes have been calculated, after retrieving the near-inertial oscillation contribution. Further perspectives are discussed, especially for the ongoing challenge of studying submesoscale features remotely and from in situ data.

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Acknowledgments

The LATEX project was supported by the programs LEFE/IDAO and LEFE/CYBER of the INSU-Institut National des Sciences de l’Univers and by the Region PACA-Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur. The PIs of the project were A. Petrenko for the physics component and F. Diaz for the biogeochemical component. The chief scientists were A. Petrenko on board the R/V Téthys II for Latex00, Latex07, Latex08, Latex09, and Latex10 and B. Quéguiner on board the R/V Le Suroît for Latex10. The scientist in charge of the tracer release was S. Blain. M. Kersalé and Z.Y. Hu were financed by MENRT Ph.D. grants. F.Nencioli acknowledges support from the FP7 Marie Curie Actions of the European Commission, via the Intra-European Fellowship (FP7-PEOPLE-IEF-2011), project “Lyapunov Analysis in the COaSTal Environment” (LACOSTE-299834). We thank I. Dekeyser for his support and useful discussions. We have appreciated that Claude Estournel and Patrick Marsaleix provided us the initial Symphonie code and helped us along our configuration development. We acknowledge the MFSTEP program for OGCM outputs. Meteorological and AVHRR data were supplied by Météo-France. The DT-INSU is thanked for the treatment of the thermosalinograph data. The altimeter products were produced by Ssalto/Duacs and distributed by Aviso with support from CNES, that also financed the post-doc fellowship of Jérome Bouffard. The MODIS Aqua data were supplied by the Distributed Active Archive Center at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and made possible by the MODIS Project. We thank the crews and technicians of the R/V Le Suroît and the R/V Téthys II, the DT-INSU and all the LATEX collaborators for their assistance at sea or during the project. A special thanks goes to, in alphabetical order, Anne Desnues, Jean-Luc Fuda, Nicolas Grima, Thierry Labasque, Deny Malengros, Peggy Rimmelin, Gilles Rougier, and Anna Roumyantseva, for their work on the data collection and Lagrangian strategy, as well as Emmanuel Bosc for some chlorophyll-a satellite products.

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Correspondence to Anne A. Petrenko.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on the 48th International Liège Colloquium on Ocean Dynamics, Liège, Belgium, 23-27 May 2016

Responsible Editor: Simon Ruiz

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Petrenko, A.A., Doglioli, A.M., Nencioli, F. et al. A review of the LATEX project: mesoscale to submesoscale processes in a coastal environment. Ocean Dynamics 67, 513–533 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10236-017-1040-9

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Keywords

  • Mesoscale
  • Submesoscale
  • Lagrangian
  • Gulf of Lion
  • Northwestern mediterranean sea
  • Cross-shelf flux