Exceptional dense water formation on the Adriatic shelf in the winter of 2012
Abstract. In this paper we document dense water formation throughout the Adriatic shelf and coastal area in January/February 2012, resulting in record-breaking densities observed during and after the event. The unprecedented dense water generation was preconditioned by a dry and warm year which resulted in a significant reduction of coastal freshwaters, superimposed on a long-term basin-wide salinity increase. The final event that triggered the dense water formation was an extended period of cold weather with strong and severe winds. Record-breaking potential density anomalies (above 30 kg m−3) were measured at several formation sites. Accumulated surface net heat and water losses in some coastal regions exceeded 1.5 GJ m−2 and 250 kg m−2 over 21 days, respectively. Excessiveness, importance of shelf-type dense water formation and effects on the thermohaline circulation and deep aquatic systems are discussed.