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CR 82:117-136 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01620

Influence of large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns on nutrient dynamics in the Mediterranean Sea in the extended winter season (October-March) 1961-1999

M. Reale1,2,*, S. Salon2, S. Somot3, C. Solidoro2, F. Giorgi1, A. Crise2, G. Cossarini2, P. Lazzari2, F. Sevault3

1ESP, Abdus Salam ICTP, Strada costiera 11, 34151 Trieste , Italy
2OGS National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics, Via Beirut 4, 34151 Trieste, Italy
3CNRM, Université de Toulouse, Météo-France, CNRS, 31057 Toulouse, France
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: We investigated the effects of variations in the 4 primary mid-latitude large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns on nutrients potentially limiting phytoplankton growth in the Mediterranean Sea (nitrate and phosphate), with a focus on the key deep convective areas of the basin (Gulf of Lions, Southern Adriatic Sea, Southern Aegean Sea and Rhodes Gyre). Monthly indices of these 4 modes of variability, together with a high-resolution hindcast of the Mediterranean Sea physics and biogeochemistry covering the period 1961-1999, were used to determine the physical mechanisms explaining the influence of these patterns on nutrient distribution and variability. We found a decrease in the concentration of phosphate and nitrate for each unit of increase in the index values of the East Atlantic and East Atlantic/Western Russian variability modes in the area of the Gulf of Lions, while a signal of the opposite sign was associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation in the Aegean Sea and Rhodes Gyre. In both cases, the variability observed was related to a significant variation in the mixed layer depth driven by heat losses and wind stress over the areas. The East Atlantic pattern played a major role in driving the long-term dynamics of both phosphate and nitrate availability in the Gulf of Lions, with a particularly pronounced effect in December and January. For both the Aegean Sea and Rhodes Gyre, the most prominent correlations were found between the North Atlantic Oscillation and phosphate, with a highly consistent behavior in the 2 areas associated with common physical forcing and exchange of properties among them.


KEY WORDS: Mediterranean Sea · Large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns · Phosphate · Nitrate · Mixed layer depth


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Cite this article as: Reale M, Salon S, Somot S, Solidoro C and others (2020) Influence of large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns on nutrient dynamics in the Mediterranean Sea in the extended winter season (October-March) 1961-1999. Clim Res 82:117-136. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01620

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