Hydrological changes in the Ligurian Sea (NW Mediterranean, DYFAMED site) during 1995–2007 and biogeochemical consequences
- 1CNRS, UMR 7093, LOV, Observatoire océanographique, 06234, Villefranche/mer, France
- 2UPMC Univ Paris 06, UMR 7093, LOV, Observatoire océanographique, 06234, Villefranche/mer, France
- 3CNRS, UMS 829, Observatoire océanographique, 06234, Villefranche/mer, France
- 4UPMC Univ Paris 06, UMS 829, Observatoire océanographique, 06234, Villefranche/mer, France
Abstract. Data obtained during the monthly cruises of the DYFAMED time-series study (northwestern Mediterranean Sea) in the period 1995–2007 were compiled to examine the hydrological changes and the linked variation of some biogeochemical characteristics (nutrients and pigments). A regular increase of temperature and salinity (0.005 °C y−1, 0.0022 psu y−1) was recorded in deep waters of the NW Mediterranean Sea (2000 m depth) during 1995–2005. In February 2006 an abrupt increase in T (+0.1 °C) and S (+0.03 psu) was measured at 2000 m depth as the result of successive intense winter mixing events during the 3 previous years. The February 2006 event led to the mixing of the whole water column (0 to >2000 m) and increased salt and heat content of the Western Mediterranean Deep Water by mixing with saltier and warmer Levantine Intermediate Water. The deficit in fresh water inputs to the western Mediterranean basin in three successive years (2003–2005) was suspected to be the major cause of this event since an increase of salinity in surface waters was monitored during these years. The measured phytoplankton biomass was specifically high after the periods of intense mixing. Chlorophyll a integrated biomass reached 230 mg m−2 in 1999, 175 mg m−2 in 2003, and 206 mg m−2 in 2006. The high levels of biomass were related to the particularly high increases in nutrients content in surface layers following the intense water column mixing and the subsequent development of a diatom bloom (as seen by fucoxanthin content). The occurrence of extreme events (high mixing, high nutrients, and high biomass) increased in recent drought years (2003 to 2006). Our results indicated that the NW Mediterranean Sea productivity is increasing.