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A Mediterranean tour

Image of the month - March 2002

This month, Aviso is bringing you several images in one with a guided tour of some of the oceanographic "curiosities" of the Mediterranean Sea.

Our tour starts in the Strait of Gibraltar, the "mouth" of the Mediterranean. The two eddies in the Alborán Sea appear in the wake of the Strait. These marked seasonal variations occur from year to year.

Moving further east, we see a zone of intense activity along the Algerian coast. Eddies and meanders in the Algerian Current are among the most turbulent features of the Mediterranean-but some are more stable. Combining measurements from Topex/Poseidon and ERS (or Jason-1 and Envisat) proves particularly valuable in zones like this, making it possible to track eddies for weeks or even months.

South of Italy, in the Ionian Basin, circulation seems to have varied between 1997 and 1999 (see also Mean rise in sea level is only part of the story, Image for March 2001).

Lastly, south-east of Crete we can make out the well-known Ierapetra gyre. This is a feature that does not always show up on cue (see An eddy blown by the wind, Image for June 1999). Winds interacting with the topography of the island are believed to be partly responsible for the gyre. Variations from year to year are thought to be due to the winds and the mid-Mediterranean jet along the coast of North Africa.

See also:

Websites on this subject:

  • MFSPP project: multi-sensors data in near-real time over the Mediterranean Sea
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