Spatiotemporal variability of alkalinity in the Mediterranean Sea
- 1Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale, Sgonico, Trieste, Italy
- 2International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy
Abstract. The paper provides a basin-scale assessment of the spatiotemporal distribution of alkalinity in the Mediterranean Sea. The assessment is made by integrating the available observations into a 3-D transport–biogeochemical model. The results indicate the presence of complex spatial patterns: a marked west-to-east surface gradient of alkalinity is coupled to secondary negative gradients: (1) from marginal seas (Adriatic and Aegean Sea) to the eastern Mediterranean Sea and (2) from north to south in the western region. The west–east gradient is related to the mixing of Atlantic water entering from the Strait of Gibraltar with the high-alkaline water of the eastern sub-basins, which is correlated to the positive surface flux of evaporation minus precipitation. The north-to-south gradients are related to the terrestrial input and to the input of the Black Sea water through the Dardanelles. In the surface layers, alkalinity has a relevant seasonal cycle (up to 40 μmol kg−1) that is driven by physical processes (seasonal cycle of evaporation and vertical mixing) and, to a minor extent, by biological processes. A comparison of alkalinity vs. salinity indicates that different regions present different relationships: in regions of freshwater influence, the two quantities are negatively correlated due to riverine alkalinity input, whereas they are positively correlated in open sea areas of the Mediterranean Sea.