The hydrodynamic and transport characteristics of the Baltic Sea in the period 2000–2009 were studied using a fully calibrated and validated 3D hydrodynamic model with a horizontal resolution of 4.8 km. This study provided new insight into the type and dynamics of vertical structure in the Baltic Sea, not considered in previous studies. Thermal and salinity stratification are both addressed, with a focus on the structural properties of the layers. The detection of cooler regions (dicothermal) within the layer structure is an important finding. The detailed investigation of thermal stratification for a 10-year period (i.e., 2000–2009) revealed some new features. A multilayered structure that contains several thermocline and dicothermal layers was identified from this study. Statistical analysis of the simulation results made it possible to derive the mean thermal stratification properties, expressed as mean temperatures and the normalized layer thicknesses. The three-layered model proposed by previous investigators appears to be valid only during the winter periods; for other periods, a multi-layered structure with more than five layers has been identified during this investigation. This study provides detailed insight into thermal and salinity stratification in the Baltic Sea during a recent decade that can be used as a basis for diverse environmental assessments. It extends previous studies on stratification in the Baltic Sea regarding both the extent and the nature of stratification.
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