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Ocean Science An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Experiments in the rotating tanks can simulate the earth system and help to represent the real ocean where the rotation plays an important role. We want to show the minor importance of the wind in driving the flow in the Ionian Sea. This we show by observing changes of water current in the rotating tank affected only by pumping of the dense water into the system. The flow variations are alike to what happens in the real sea confirming the scarce importance of the wind for the flow in the Ionian.
Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2020-122
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2020-122

  08 Jan 2021

08 Jan 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal OS.

Impact of the dense water flow over the sloping bottom on the open-sea circulation: Laboratory experiments and the Ionian Sea (Mediterranean) example

Miroslav Gačić1, Laura Ursella1, Vedrana Kovačević1, Milena Menna1, Vlado Malačič2, Manuel Bensi1, Maria-Eletta Negretti3, Vanessa Cardin1, Mirko Orlić4, Joël Sommeria3, Ricardo Viana Barreto5, Samuel Viboud3, Thomas Valran3, Boris Petelin2, Giuseppe Siena1, and Angelo Rubino5 Miroslav Gačić et al.
  • 1National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics -OGS, Borgo Grotta Gigante 42/C, Sgonico (TS), 34010, Italy
  • 2National Institute of Biology, Marine Biology Station, Fornače 41, Piran, 6330, Slovenia
  • 3LEGI, CNRS UMR5519, University of Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, 1209-1211 rue de la piscine, Domaine Universitaire, Saint Martin d’Hères, 38400, France
  • 4Andrija Mohorovičić Geophysical Institute, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Horvatovac 95, Zagreb,10000, Croatia
  • 5University Ca’ Foscari of Venice, Dept. of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics, Via Torino 155, Mestre, 30172, Italy

Abstract. The North Ionian Gyre (NIG) displays prominent inversions on decadal scales. We investigate the role of internal forcing, induced by changes of the horizontal pressure gradient due to the varying density of the Adriatic Deep Water (AdDW), that spreads into the deep layers of the Northern Ionian Sea. In turn, the AdDW density fluctuates according to the circulation of the NIG through a feedback mechanism named Bimodal Oscillating System. We set up laboratory experiments with a two-layer ambient fluid in a circular rotating tank, where densities of 1000/1015 kg m−3 characterise the upper/lower layer, respectively. From the potential vorticity evolution during the dense water outflow from a marginal sea, we analyse the response of the open-sea circulation to the along-slope dense water flow. In addition, we show some features of the cyclonic/anticyclonic eddies that form in the upper layer over the slope area. We illustrate the outcome of the experiments of varying density and varying discharge rates associated with the dense water injection. When the density is high, 1020 kg m−3, and the discharge is large, the kinetic energy of the mean flow is stronger than the eddy kinetic energy. On the other hand, when the density is smaller, 1010 kg m−3, and the discharge is reduced, vortices are more energetic than the mean flow, that is, the eddy kinetic energy is larger than the kinetic energy of the mean flow. In general, over the slope, following the onset of the dense water injection, the cyclonic vorticity associated with a current shear develops in the upper layer. The vorticity behaves in a two-layer fashion, thus becoming anticyclonic in the lower layer of the slope area. Concurrently, over the deep flat-bottom portion of the basin, a large-scale anticyclonic gyre forms in the upper layer extending partly toward a sloping rim. Density record shows the rise of the pycnocline due to the dense water sinking toward the flat-bottom portion of the tank. We show that the rate of increase of the anticyclonic potential vorticity is proportional to the rate of the rise of the interface, namely, to the rate of decrease of the upper layer thickness (i.e., the upper layer squeezing). The comparison of laboratory experiments with the Ionian Sea is made for a situation when the sudden switch from the cyclonic to the anticyclonic basin-wide circulation took place following the extremely dense Adriatic water overflow after the harsh winter in 2012. We show how similar are the temporal evolution and the vertical structure in both laboratory and oceanic conditions. The demonstrated similarity further supports the assertion that the wind-stress curl over the Ionian Sea is not of paramount importance in generating basin-wide circulation inversions, as compared to the internal forcing.

Miroslav Gačić et al.

Status: open (until 05 Mar 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Miroslav Gačić et al.

Miroslav Gačić et al.

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Short summary
Experiments in the rotating tanks can simulate the earth system and help to represent the real ocean where the rotation plays an important role. We want to show the minor importance of the wind in driving the flow in the Ionian Sea. This we show by observing changes of water current in the rotating tank affected only by pumping of the dense water into the system. The flow variations are alike to what happens in the real sea confirming the scarce importance of the wind for the flow in the Ionian.
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