The Mediterranean outflow in the Strait of Gibraltar and its connection with upstream conditions in the Alborán Sea
Abstract. The present study addresses the hypothesis that the Western Alborán Gyre in the Alborán Sea (the westernmost Mediterranean basin adjacent to the Strait of Gibraltar) influences the composition of the outflow through the Strait of Gibraltar. The process invoked is that strong and well-developed gyres help to evacuate the Western Mediterranean Deep Water from the Alborán basin, thus increasing its presence in the outflow, whereas weak gyres facilitate the outflow of Levantine and other intermediate waters. To this aim, in situ observations collected at the Camarinal (the main) and Espartel (the westernmost) sills of the strait have been analysed along with altimetry data, which were employed to obtain a proxy of the strength of the gyre. An encouraging correlation of the expected sign was observed between the time series of potential temperature at the Espartel Sill, which is shown to keep information on the outflow composition, and the proxy of the Western Alborán Gyre, suggesting the correctness of the hypothesis, although the weakness of the involved signals does not allow for drawing definitive conclusions.