Performance of multi-decadal ocean simulations in the Adriatic Sea

Dunic, Natalija ; Vilibic, Ivica ; Sepic, Jadranka ; Mihanovic, Hrvoje ; Sevault, Florence ; Somot, Samuel ; Waldman, Robin ; Nabat, Pierre ; Arsouze, Thomas ; Pennel, Romain ; Jordà, Gabriel ; Precali, Robert

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<p align=justify>A performance study of seven regional ocean configurations based on NEMO has been carried out for the Adriatic Sea over a common period (1980-2012). Assessed models differ in resolution, model physics, atmospheric forcing (forced vs. coupled models) and river discharges imposed within the Adriatic Sea. Models have been evaluated on the long-term temperature and salinity measurements in all of the Adriatic sub-basins, in particular within dense water collectors (Jabuka Pit and South Adriatic Pit) and dense water formation sites (northern and southern Adriatic). Adriatic-wide salinity content is mostly linked to the proper introduction of the overall water budget, rather than to the local river forcing. Forced models mostly overestimate temperature and salinity values. On average, coupled models better reproduce the thermohaline properties and processes, in particular the Adriatic-Ionian Bimodal Oscillating System (BiOS) reversals and its decadal variability. Wintertime heat losses are playing major role in defining the Adriatic Deep Water (ADW) transport rates in coupled models, while in forced models preconditioning in salinity is the most important factor. Further on, increase of resolution of the atmospheric forcing results in more realistic ocean behaviour, including dense water formation (DWF) in the complex coastal northern Adriatic. However, all models have large temperature biases and lower deep stratification at the dense water collector sites, indicating overall underrepresentation of the Adriatic DWF. Consequently, mixed-layer depth in the southern Adriatic is overestimated, reaching the bottom during some years. Ocean model resolution and river forcing seem to play a second-order role in defining the overall Adriatic-Ionian thermohaline properties, while inclusion of aerosol trend only slightly modified the BiOS reproduction.</p>
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