Influence of large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns on nutrient dynamics in the Mediterranean Sea in the extended winter season (October-March) 1961-1999

Reale, M. ; Salon, S. ; Somot, Samuel ; Solidoro, C. ; Giorgi, F. ; Crise, A. ; Cossarini, G. ; Lazzari, P. ; Sevault, Florence

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<p align=justify>We investigated the effects of variations in the 4 primary mid-latitude large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns on nutrients potentially limiting phytoplankton growth in the Mediterranean Sea (nitrate and phosphate), with a focus on the key deep convective areas of the basin (Gulf of Lions, Southern Adriatic Sea, Southern Aegean Sea and Rhodes Gyre). Monthly indices of these 4 modes of variability, together with a high-resolution hindcast of the Mediterranean Sea physics and biogeochemistry covering the period 1961-1999, were used to determine the physical mechanisms explaining the influence of these patterns on nutrient distribution and variability. We found a decrease in the concentration of phosphate and nitrate for each unit of increase in the index values of the East Atlantic and East Atlantic/Western Russian variability modes in the area of the Gulf of Lions, while a signal of the opposite sign was associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation in the Aegean Sea and Rhodes Gyre. In both cases, the variability observed was related to a significant variation in the mixed layer depth driven by heat losses and wind stress over the areas. The East Atlantic pattern played a major role in driving the long-term dynamics of both phosphate and nitrate availability in the Gulf of Lions, with a particularly pronounced effect in December and January. For both the Aegean Sea and Rhodes Gyre, the most prominent correlations were found between the North Atlantic Oscillation and phosphate, with a highly consistent behavior in the 2 areas associated with common physical forcing and exchange of properties among them.</p>
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