Seasonal variability and Po River plume influence on biochemical properties along western Adriatic coast

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Abstract

[1] The influence of the Po plume on the northern Adriatic Sea was observed during two seasons in 2003 under distinct physical forcing regimes. During the winter, the plume was cool, low in both salinity and chlorophyll, but with higher chlorophyll concentrations occurring along the plume boundary. The plume mixed deeply in the water column in response to the strong wind forcing. The northern Adriatic and the Po plume cooled significantly during the observational period, and therefore salinity alone was the best discriminator of water mass variability. In contrast to the strong forcing of the winter period, the late spring was characterized by weak wind forcing, and below-average Po River discharge (∼600 m3/s) which was about one third of the typical discharge for this period. As in winter, salinity was again the best discriminator of water mass variability. The Po plume advected southward along the Italian coast and in some locations portions of the coastal plume were transferred offshore in filament-like features. However, theone observed filament was quite low in chlorophyll and was quite thin vertically, extending downward less than 5 m from the surface. The spring observations provide a distinct contrast in the effects of the physical forcings of river flow and wind stress from two different seasons. The strong winter forcing resulted in deep mixing of the plume despite its low salinity and buoyancy, whereas the weak summer flow under weak winds resulted in a very shallow plume (<5 m) that was high in chlorophyll.

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