Articles | Volume 7, issue 12
Research article
15 Dec 2010
Research article |  | 15 Dec 2010

On the impact of the Bimodal Oscillating System (BiOS) on the biogeochemistry and biology of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas (Eastern Mediterranean)

G. Civitarese, M. Gačić, M. Lipizer, and G. L. Eusebi Borzelli

Abstract. Analysis of 20-year time-series of the vertically averaged salinity and nutrient data in the Southern Adriatic shows that the two parameters are subject to strong decadal variability. In addition, it is documented that nutrient and salinity variations are out of phase. Nutrients in the Ionian and in the Adriatic vary in parallel except that generally the nutrient content in the Adriatic is lower than in the Ionian, a fact that has been attributed to primary producer consumption following the winter convective mixing. As shown earlier, North Ionian Gyre (NIG) changes its circulation sense on a decadal scale due to the Bimodal Oscillating System, i.e. the feedback mechanism between the Adriatic and Ionian. Cyclonic circulation causes a downwelling of the nitracline along the borders of the NIG and a decrease in the nutrient content of the water flowing into the Adriatic across the Otranto Strait, and vice versa. In addition, the highly oligotrophic central area of the Ionian shows annual blooms only during cyclonic NIG circulation. Inversion of the sense of the NIG results in the advection of Modified Atlantic Water or of the Levantine/Eastern Mediterranean waters in the Adriatic. Here, we show that the presence of allochtonous organisms from Atlantic/Western Mediterranean and Eastern Mediterranean/temperate zone in the Adriatic are concurrent with the anticyclonic and cyclonic circulations of the NIG, respectively. On the basis of the results presented, a revision of the theory of Adriatic ingressions formulated in the early 1950s is proposed.

Final-revised paper