National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1993

Mediterranean outflow mixing and dynamics

Price, J.F., M.O. Baringer, R.G. Lueck, G.C. Johnson, I. Ambar, G. Parilla, A. Cantos, M.A. Kennelly, and T.B. Sanford

Science, 259, 1277–1282, doi: 10.1126/science.259.5099.1277 (1993)

The Mediterranean Sea produces a salty, dense outflow that is strongly modified by entrainment as it first begins to descend the continental slope in the eastern Gulf of Cadiz. The current accelerates to 1.3 meters per second, which raises the internal Froude number above 1, and is intensely turbulent through its full thickness. The outflow loses about half of its density anomaly and roughly doubles its volume transport as it entrains less saline North Atlantic Central water. Within 100 kilometers downstream, the current is turned by the Coriolis force until it flows nearly parallel to topography in a damped geostrophic balance. The mixed Mediterranean outflow continues westward, slowly descending the continental slope until it becomes neutrally buoyant in the thermocline where it becomes an important water mass.

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