Vol. 53, n.2, June 2012
Aspects of the surface circulation in the Liguro-Provençal basin and Gulf of Lion as observed by satellite-tracked drifters (2007-2009)
P.-M. POULAIN, R. GERIN, M. RIXEN, P. ZANASCA, J. TEIXEIRA, A. GRIFFA, A. MOLCARD, M. DE MARTE and N. PINARDI
Received: June 17, 2011; accepted: November 23, 2011
The surface circulation in the Liguro-Provençal basin and Gulf of Lion (north-western
Mediterranean) is studied using satellite-tracked drifters in the period 2007-2009.
Complex circulation patterns prevailed in the eastern Ligurian Sea, before the drifters
joined the Northern Current (NC) in the coastal area off Genoa. Between 5°E and
7°30’E, most drifters (especially in summer) were advected offshore before heading
to the east and eventually closing a basin-wide cyclonic circulation. This offshore
turning is related to the wind and wind stress curl during north-westerly wind events.
In constrast, most drifters proceeded into the Catalan Sea in the fall. Although the
Western Corsican Current was well delineated by the drifters, no signature of the
Eastern Corsican Current was shown, indicating limited connectivity between the
Tyrrhenian and Ligurian seas in summer 2007. Pseudo-Eulerian velocity statistics
were calculated in the coastal region extending between Genoa and the Gulf of Lion.
Fast currents are evident on the shelf break, especially off Imperia (maximum of 90
cm/s) where the NC is closer to shore and narrower. A stagnation area inshore of the
NC near Fréjus is characterized by little mean flow and low velocity fluctuations.
Mean currents are also reduced off Menton-Nice where the variability is maximum.
More to the west, the NC broadens and slightly reduces in strength.
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