Filament generation off the Strait of Gibraltar in response to Gap winds

Peliz A, Teles-Machado A, Marchesiello P, Dubert J, Lafuente JG
Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans 46 (2009) 3645,

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We present a case study of the generation of a cold filament rooted off the southwestern edge of the Strait of Gibraltar (Atlantic side) during the summer of 2000. The event is successfully simulated using high-resolution atmospheric and oceanic numerical models. It is shown that a sharp filament may develop oceanwards with little modification of the Atlantic inflow into the Mediterranean, contrary to usual expectations. The filament is essentially driven by the surface layer response to Gap winds occurring during Levanter conditions. The easterly wind funnelling in the Strait generates a strong wind jet and intense wind curl which impacts the oceanic surface layer through Ekman pumping and mixing processes. The generation and fate of the filament is very similar to the Gulf of Tehuantepec case, where strong Gap wind events produce asymmetric deformation and erosion of the thermocline that tends to favour anticyclonic mesoscale circulations. Our observations and model results from both realistic and idealized experiments suggest that similar phenomena are present in the Gulf of Cadiz, but they are altered by the persisting Atlantic inflow, so that the response to Gap winds is not as dramatic.