Properties and pathways of Mediterranean water eddies in the Atlantic - Université de Bretagne Occidentale Access content directly
Journal Articles Progress in Oceanography Year : 2015

Properties and pathways of Mediterranean water eddies in the Atlantic


Data from ship vertical casts (NODC data-set), ARGO profiling floats (Coriolis data-set) and RAFOS-type neutral density floats (WOCE data-set) are used to study characteristics of meddies in the Northeast Atlantic. In total 241 Mediterranean water eddies (meddies) and 236 parts of float trajectories within meddies are selected for detailed analysis. The results suggest that the meddy generation rate at the southern and southwestern Iberian Peninsula (Portimao Canyon, cap St. Vincent, Estremadura Promontory, Gorringe Bank) is 3 times that at the northwestern Iberian Peninsula (Porto-Aveiro Canyons, Cape Finisterre and Galicia Bank). Meddies generated south of Estremadura Promontory (the southern meddies), as compared to those generated north of it (the northern meddies), have smaller radii, smaller vertical extension, higher aspect ratio, higher Rossby number and higher stability (stronger potential vorticity anomaly). These latter properties result from the southern meddies higher relative vorticity and stronger buoyancy frequency anomaly. Away from the generation regions, meddy drift concentrates along four main paths: three quasi-zonal paths (Northern, Central, Southern) and a path following the African coast (Coastal). The quasi-zonal paths are aligned to the isolines of the ambient potential vorticity field. Several cross-path exchanges, identified in this work, are aligned to topographic rises. Northward translation of the northern meddies within the North Atlantic Current to the subpolar gyre is detected. Within the first 600 km from the coast, meddy merger is proved to be a common event. This explains the observed difference in radii between the newly generated meddies and those away from the Iberian margin. The decay of the southern meddies proceeds mainly via the loss of their skirts and does not affect meddy cores until the latest stages. The decay of the northern meddies goes in parallel with the decay of their cores. In average meddy decay is achieved within 1–2 years, although may take over 3 years. Collisions with the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and seamounts sensibly decrease meddy lifetimes. Meddy decay also speeds up when meddies meet the Azores Current or the North Atlantic Current. A rapid drop in the number of meddies south of the Azores Current proves that it represents a dynamic barrier for weak meddies.


No file

Dates and versions

hal-01495010 , version 1 (24-03-2017)



I. Bashmachnikov, F. Neves, T. Calheiros, X. Carton. Properties and pathways of Mediterranean water eddies in the Atlantic. Progress in Oceanography, 2015, 137 (Part A), pp.149-172. ⟨10.1016/j.pocean.2015.06.001⟩. ⟨hal-01495010⟩
60 View
0 Download



Gmail Facebook X LinkedIn More