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Persistent, depth‐intensified mixing during the Western Mediterranean Transition's initial stages

Persistent, depth‐intensified mixing during the Western Mediterranean Transition's initial stages
Persistent, depth‐intensified mixing during the Western Mediterranean Transition's initial stages
Major deep‐convection activity in the northwestern Mediterranean during winter 2005 triggered the formation of a complex anomalous deep‐water structure that substantially modified the properties of the Western Mediterranean deep layers. Since then, evolution of this thermohaline structure, the so‐called Western Mediterranean Transition (WMT), has been traced through a regularly‐sampled hydrographic deep station located on the outer continental slope of Minorca Island. A rapid erosion of the WMT's near‐bottom thermohaline signal was observed during 2005‐2007. The plausible interpretation of this as local bottom‐intensified mixing motivates this study. Here, the evolution of the WMT structure through 2005‐2007 is reproduced by means of a 1‐D diffusion model including double‐diffusive mixing that allows vertical variation of the background mixing coefficient and includes a source term to represent the lateral advection of deep‐water injections from the convection area. Using an optimization algorithm, a best guess for the depth‐dependent background mixing coefficient is obtained for the study period. WMT evolution during its initial stages is satisfactorily reproduced using this simple conceptual model, indicating that strong depth‐intensified mixing (K∞(z) ≈ 22 × 10−4 m2 s−1; z⪆1400 dbar) is a valid explanation for the observations. Extensive hydrographic and current observations gathered over the continental slope of Minorca during winter 2018, the first deep‐convective winter intensively sampled in the region, provide evidence of topographically‐localized enhanced mixing concurrent with newly‐formed dense waters flowing along‐slope toward the Algerian sub‐basin. This transport‐related boundary mixing mechanism is suggested to be a plausible source of the water‐mass transformations observed during the initial stages of the WMT off Minorca.
2169-9275
Piñeiro, S.
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González‐pola, C.
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Fernández‐díaz, J. M.
5fae019d-599b-43eb-8b5e-ec932072c049
Naveira‐garabato, A. C.
97c0e923-f076-4b38-b89b-938e11cea7a6
Sánchez‐leal, R.
1eec07a3-ce17-4b1a-8056-6a2e16b55690
Puig, P.
40eb2ffe-80ff-4ec5-87e6-60e0334ab0c6
Salat, J.
4a4bf2be-a680-4232-97fd-70177089d18a
Balbin, R.
1240b67c-a4e4-465f-8e0e-d9547bdff460
Piñeiro, S.
6c1b53ce-e398-46b9-8f70-178fd803a3c6
González‐pola, C.
8fda915f-04ce-4195-96b6-ae1a11044c05
Fernández‐díaz, J. M.
5fae019d-599b-43eb-8b5e-ec932072c049
Naveira‐garabato, A. C.
97c0e923-f076-4b38-b89b-938e11cea7a6
Sánchez‐leal, R.
1eec07a3-ce17-4b1a-8056-6a2e16b55690
Puig, P.
40eb2ffe-80ff-4ec5-87e6-60e0334ab0c6
Salat, J.
4a4bf2be-a680-4232-97fd-70177089d18a
Balbin, R.
1240b67c-a4e4-465f-8e0e-d9547bdff460

Piñeiro, S., González‐pola, C., Fernández‐díaz, J. M., Naveira‐garabato, A. C., Sánchez‐leal, R., Puig, P., Salat, J. and Balbin, R. (2020) Persistent, depth‐intensified mixing during the Western Mediterranean Transition's initial stages. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, [e2020JC016535]. (doi:10.1029/2020JC016535).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Major deep‐convection activity in the northwestern Mediterranean during winter 2005 triggered the formation of a complex anomalous deep‐water structure that substantially modified the properties of the Western Mediterranean deep layers. Since then, evolution of this thermohaline structure, the so‐called Western Mediterranean Transition (WMT), has been traced through a regularly‐sampled hydrographic deep station located on the outer continental slope of Minorca Island. A rapid erosion of the WMT's near‐bottom thermohaline signal was observed during 2005‐2007. The plausible interpretation of this as local bottom‐intensified mixing motivates this study. Here, the evolution of the WMT structure through 2005‐2007 is reproduced by means of a 1‐D diffusion model including double‐diffusive mixing that allows vertical variation of the background mixing coefficient and includes a source term to represent the lateral advection of deep‐water injections from the convection area. Using an optimization algorithm, a best guess for the depth‐dependent background mixing coefficient is obtained for the study period. WMT evolution during its initial stages is satisfactorily reproduced using this simple conceptual model, indicating that strong depth‐intensified mixing (K∞(z) ≈ 22 × 10−4 m2 s−1; z⪆1400 dbar) is a valid explanation for the observations. Extensive hydrographic and current observations gathered over the continental slope of Minorca during winter 2018, the first deep‐convective winter intensively sampled in the region, provide evidence of topographically‐localized enhanced mixing concurrent with newly‐formed dense waters flowing along‐slope toward the Algerian sub‐basin. This transport‐related boundary mixing mechanism is suggested to be a plausible source of the water‐mass transformations observed during the initial stages of the WMT off Minorca.

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2020JC016535 - Accepted Manuscript
Restricted to Repository staff only until 12 December 2021.
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Accepted/In Press date: 5 December 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 12 December 2020

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Local EPrints ID: 446011
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/446011
ISSN: 2169-9275
PURE UUID: 487e5c21-9e64-4ca6-8b6b-5ee01e16daf6

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Date deposited: 19 Jan 2021 17:30
Last modified: 25 Nov 2021 21:39

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Contributors

Author: S. Piñeiro
Author: C. González‐pola
Author: J. M. Fernández‐díaz
Author: R. Sánchez‐leal
Author: P. Puig
Author: J. Salat
Author: R. Balbin

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