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ArticleFactors governing the deep ventilation of the Red Sea(John Wiley & Sons, 2015-11-19) Papadopoulos, Vassilis P. ; Zhan, Peng ; Sofianos, Sarantis S. ; Raitsos, Dionysios E. ; Qurban, Mohammed ; Abualnaja, Yasser ; Bower, Amy S. ; Kontoyiannis, Harilaos ; Pavlidou, Alexandra ; Asharaf, T. T. Mohamed ; Zarokanellos, Nikolaos ; Hoteit, IbrahimA variety of data based on hydrographic measurements, satellite observations, reanalysis databases, and meteorological observations are used to explore the interannual variability and factors governing the deep water formation in the northern Red Sea. Historical and recent hydrographic data consistently indicate that the ventilation of the near-bottom layer in the Red Sea is a robust feature of the thermohaline circulation. Dense water capable to reach the bottom layers of the Red Sea can be regularly produced mostly inside the Gulfs of Aqaba and Suez. Occasionally, during colder than usual winters, deep water formation may also take place over coastal areas in the northernmost end of the open Red Sea just outside the Gulfs of Aqaba and Suez. However, the origin as well as the amount of deep waters exhibit considerable interannual variability depending not only on atmospheric forcing but also on the water circulation over the northern Red Sea. Analysis of several recent winters shows that the strength of the cyclonic gyre prevailing in the northernmost part of the basin can effectively influence the sea surface temperature (SST) and intensify or moderate the winter surface cooling. Upwelling associated with periods of persistent gyre circulation lowers the SST over the northernmost part of the Red Sea and can produce colder than normal winter SST even without extreme heat loss by the sea surface. In addition, the occasional persistence of the cyclonic gyre feeds the surface layers of the northern Red Sea with nutrients, considerably increasing the phytoplankton biomass.
ArticleAtmospheric forcing of the winter air–sea heat fluxes over the northern Red Sea(American Meteorological Society, 2013-03-01) Papadopoulos, Vassilis P. ; Abualnaja, Yasser ; Josey, Simon A. ; Bower, Amy S. ; Raitsos, Dionysios E. ; Kontoyiannis, Harilaos ; Hoteit, IbrahimThe influence of the atmospheric circulation on the winter air–sea heat fluxes over the northern Red Sea is investigated during the period 1985–2011. The analysis based on daily heat flux values reveals that most of the net surface heat exchange variability depends on the behavior of the turbulent components of the surface flux (the sum of the latent and sensible heat). The large-scale composite sea level pressure (SLP) maps corresponding to turbulent flux minima and maxima show distinct atmospheric circulation patterns associated with each case. In general, extreme heat loss (with turbulent flux lower than −400 W m−2) over the northern Red Sea is observed when anticyclonic conditions prevail over an area extending from the Mediterranean Sea to eastern Asia along with a recession of the equatorial African lows system. Subcenters of high pressure associated with this pattern generate the required steep SLP gradient that enhances the wind magnitude and transfers cold and dry air masses from higher latitudes. Conversely, turbulent flux maxima (heat loss minimization with values from −100 to −50 W m−2) are associated with prevailing low pressures over the eastern Mediterranean and an extended equatorial African low that reaches the southern part of the Red Sea. In this case, a smooth SLP field over the northern Red Sea results in weak winds over the area that in turn reduce the surface heat loss. At the same time, southerlies blowing along the main axis of the Red Sea transfer warm and humid air northward, favoring heat flux maxima.