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Long term evolution of heat budget in the Mediterranean Sea from Med-CORDEX forced and coupled simulations

TitleLong term evolution of heat budget in the Mediterranean Sea from Med-CORDEX forced and coupled simulations
Publication TypeArticolo su Rivista peer-reviewed
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsHarzallah, A., Jordà G., Dubois C., Sannino Gianmaria, Carillo Adriana, Li L., Arsouze T., Cavicchia L., Beuvier J., and Akhtar N.
JournalClimate Dynamics
Keywordsannual variation, climate modeling, heat budget, Heat flux, Mediterranean Sea, Regional climate, sea surface temperature, Strait of Gibraltar, trend analysis

This study evaluates the Mediterranean Sea heat budget components from a set of forced and coupled simulations performed in the frame of the Med-CORDEX project. The simulations use regional climate system models (RCSMs) dedicated to the Mediterranean area and driven by the ERA40/ERA-Interim reanalyses. The study focuses on the period 1980–2010. Interannual variations of the average net heat flux at the sea surface are consistent among models but the spread in the mean values is large (from −4.8 to +2.2 Wm−2) with the coupled models showing the lowest heat loss from the sea. For the heat flux at the Strait of Gibraltar both interannual variations and mean values show a large intermodel spread. The basin average temperature shows positive trends with highest values in the coupled models; it also shows interannual variations that are in good agreement with observations. The heat content rate is calculated based on the derivative of the average temperature and is found to be significantly correlated for most models with the net heat flux at the sea surface (average correlation 0.5) but not with the net heat flux through the Strait of Gibraltar (average correlation 0.2), suggesting that in the considered RCSMs the interannual variability of the heat content rate is mainly driven by the surface heat fluxes. The resemblance between the simulated and observed heat content rates is stronger in the forced models than in the coupled ones. This is explained by the stronger constraint applied to the forced models by the use of the surface temperature relaxation to observations. The temperature of the outflowing water through the Strait of Gibraltar shows positive and significant trends, also higher in the coupled models. It is suggested that the Mediterranean Sea warming found in most models and in particular in the coupled ones, induces a change of the hydrographic conditions that affects the Strait of Gibraltar. © 2016 The Author(s)


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