Hydraulic criticality of the exchange flow through the Strait of Gibraltar

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Sannino, Gianmaria
Pratt, Lawrence J.
Carillo, Adriana
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Channel flows
Mediterranean Sea
Orographic effects
The hydraulic state of the exchange circulation through the Strait of Gibraltar is defined using a recently developed critical condition that accounts for cross-channel variations in layer thickness and velocity, applied to the output of a high-resolution three-dimensional numerical model simulating the tidal exchange. The numerical model uses a coastal-following curvilinear orthogonal grid, which includes, in addition to the Strait of Gibraltar, the Gulf of Cadiz and the Alboran Sea. The model is forced at the open boundaries through the specification of the surface tidal elevation that is characterized by the two principal semidiurnal and two diurnal harmonics: M2, S2, O1, and K1. The simulation covers an entire tropical month. The hydraulic analysis is carried out approximating the continuous vertical stratification first as a two-layer system and then as a three-layer system. In the latter, the transition zone, generated by entrainment and mixing between the Atlantic and Mediterranean flows, is considered as an active layer in the hydraulic model. As result of these vertical approximations, two different hydraulic states have been found; however, the simulated behavior of the flow only supports the hydraulic state predicted by the three-layer case. Thus, analyzing the results obtained by means of the three-layer hydraulic model, the authors have found that the flow in the strait reaches maximal exchange about 76% of the tropical monthlong period.
Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2009. This article is posted here by permission of American Meteorological Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Physical Oceanography 39 (2009): 2779-2799, doi:10.1175/2009JPO4075.1.
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Journal of Physical Oceanography 39 (2009): 2779-2799
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