Hydrographic situation during cruise M84/3 and P414 (spring 2011) in the Mediterranean Sea
Abstract. Aspects of hydrography and large-scale circulation observed in the Mediterranean Sea during the M84/3 and P414 cruises (April and June 2011, respectively) are presented. In contrast to most of the recent expeditions, which were limited to special areas of the basin, these two cruises, especially the M84/3, offered the opportunity of delineating a quasi-synoptic picture of the distribution of the relevant physical parameters along a section extending through the whole Mediterranean, from the Lebanese coast up to the Strait of Gibraltar. The foci of our analysis are the observed water mass properties and velocity fields. The first are investigated through T–S diagrams and an optimum multiparameter (OMP) analysis and the results are discussed also in the context of recently identified modes of variability; the second are studied by comparing the velocity fields observed using a vessel-mounted Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler and those calculated from the observed density fields. Overall, a distribution of temperature, salinity and geostrophic velocities emerges, which is far from that observed before the beginning of the so-called "Eastern Mediterranean Transient", a major climatic shift in the hydrography and circulation of the Mediterranean Sea which began at the end of the 1980s. The picture which emerges helps to further address the complexity of long-term evolution of hydrography and large-scale circulation of the Mediterranean Sea.