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J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2019, 7(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse7010003

Long-Term Monitoring of the Atlantic Jet through the Strait of Gibraltar with HF Radar Observations

1
Puertos del Estado, 28042 Madrid, Spain
2
Centro Tecnológico del Mar (CETMAR), 36208 Vigo, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 19 November 2018 / Revised: 19 December 2018 / Accepted: 20 December 2018 / Published: 2 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radar Technology for Coastal Areas and Open Sea Monitoring)
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Abstract

The present work focuses on the long-term coastal monitoring of the Atlantic surface inflow into the Mediterranean basin through the Strait of Gibraltar. Hourly current maps provided during 2016–2017 by a High Frequency radar (HFR) system were used to characterize the Atlantic Jet (AJ) since changes in its speed and direction modulate the upper-layer circulation of the Western Alboran Gyre (WAG). The AJ pattern was observed to follow a marked seasonal cycle. A stronger AJ flowed north-eastwards during autumn and winter, while a weaker AJ was directed more southwardly during the middle of the year, reaching a minimum of intensity during summertime. A strong relationship between AJ speeds and angles was evidenced: the AJ appeared to be frequently locked at an angle around 63°, measured clockwise from the North. The AJ speed usually fluctuated between 50 cm·s−1 and 170 cm·s−1, with occasional drops below 50 cm·s−1 which were coincident with abrupt modifications in AJ orientation. Peaks of current speed clearly reached values up to 250 cm·s−1, regardless of the season. A number of persistent full reversal episodes of the surface inflow were analyzed in terms of triggering synoptic conditions and the related wind-driven circulation patterns. High sea level pressures and intense (above 10 m·s−1), permanent and spatially-uniform easterlies prevailed over the study domain during the AJ collapse events analyzed. By contrast, tides seemed to play a secondary role by partially speeding up or slowing down the westward currents, depending on the phase of the tide. A detailed characterization of this unusual phenomenon in the Strait of Gibraltar is relevant from diverse aspects, encompassing search and rescue operations, the management of accidental marine pollution episodes or efficient ship routing. View Full-Text
Keywords: HF radar; monitoring; circulation; Atlantic Jet; flow reversal; Gibraltar; Alboran Sea HF radar; monitoring; circulation; Atlantic Jet; flow reversal; Gibraltar; Alboran Sea
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Lorente, P.; Piedracoba, S.; Sotillo, M.G.; Álvarez-Fanjul, E. Long-Term Monitoring of the Atlantic Jet through the Strait of Gibraltar with HF Radar Observations. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2019, 7, 3.

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