Arms winding around a meddy seen in seismic reflection data close to the Morocco coastline

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Abstract

[1] The North Atlantic temperature and salinity distributions are strongly influenced by the existence of Mediterranean eddies (meddies) which significantly contribute to the transport of the warm and salty Mediterranean Water along different pathways. The most common pathways are observed to be North and West of the Canary Current. However, a 2011 seismic reflection cruise conducted by BGR and Ifremer near the North–Western African margin of Morocco, MIRROR Leg 2, revealed the presence of a meddy south of the Azores front and very close to the Morocco coastline. This unusual location of a strong Mediterranean Water anomaly is confirmed by other data. Moreover, meddies are long-lived structures whose dynamics and dissipation are not yet completely understood. Recently, theoretical studies have revealed critical-level baroclinic instabilities of compact, lens-like vortices. This theory supports the slow growth of azimuthal eigenmodes along critical surfaces which leads to the formation of arms winding around the vortex developing sharp internal fronts. These structures are very thin and spatially intermittent and are identified for the first time in a seismic dataset; this is made possible by the length of seismic sections at high lateral resolution.

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