Articles | Volume 6, issue 2
Ocean Sci., 6, 573–586, 2010
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-6-573-2010
Ocean Sci., 6, 573–586, 2010
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-6-573-2010

  14 Jun 2010

14 Jun 2010

Importance of the variability of hydrographic preconditioning for deep convection in the Gulf of Lion, NW Mediterranean

L. Grignon1, D. A. Smeed1, H. L. Bryden1, and K. Schroeder2 L. Grignon et al.
  • 1National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK
  • 2CNR-ISMAR, Sede di La Spezia, Italy

Abstract. We study the variability of hydrographic preconditioning defined as the heat and salt contents in the Ligurian Sea before convection. The stratification is found to reach a maximum in the intermediate layer in December, whose causes and consequences for the interannual variability of convection are investigated. Further study of the interannual variability and correlation tests between the properties of the deep water formed and the winter surface fluxes support the description of convection as a process that transfers the heat and salt contents from the top and intermediate layers to the deep layer. A proxy for the rate of transfer is given by the final convective mixed layer depth, that is shown to depend equally on the surface fluxes and on the preconditioning. In particular, it is found that deep convection in winter 2004–2005 would have happened even with normal winter conditions, due to low pre-winter stratification.