Ciappa, AC (2009). Surface circulation patterns in the Sicily Channel and Ionian Sea as revealed by MODIS chlorophyll images from 2003 to 2007. CONTINENTAL SHELF RESEARCH, 29(17), 2099-2109.
The surface circulation in the Sicily Channel and in the Ionian Sea is investigated using MCDerate-resolution Infrared Spectro-radiometer (MODIS) chlorophyll-a images collected from 2003 to 2007 The use of chlorophyll as surface tracer in the area is verified by comparison with satellite altimeter measurements available during the same period. The interaction between waters with different concentrations of chlorophyll adds new particulars to the surface circulation of the Atlantic Water (AW) in the study area. In the Sicily Channel, warm anticyclonic structures located in the southern end drive the AW flow along their northern boundary to the south-east. towards the Libyan coast. In winter, the anticyclonic structures contract in a stable nucleus (the Sidra gyre) close to the African coast allowing AW intrusion over the Tunisian shelf (Atlantic Tunisian Current). In summer, the anticyclonic structure expands westwards, limiting the Atlantic Tunisian Current, and northwards, grazing the Atlantic Ionian Stream. It also fragments, allowing occasional AW intrusion into the central part of the Sicily Channel along different pathways Due to the activity of the Sidra gyre, no evidence of the extension of the Atlantic Tunisian Current along the Libyan coast (cast of 15 degrees E) is found in the observation period. AW spreads into the central Ionian for long periods in summer but rarely in winter It reaches the northern Ionian Sea via anticyclonic eddies (already observed in thermal imagery) departing from the northern and eastern border of the anticyclonic structure, captured by the prevalent clockwise offshore circulation in the northern Ionian (except in summer 2003) The deduced circulation is in agreement with recent studies based oil the altimetric Mean Dynamic Topography and trajectories of drifters released in the Sicily Channel in recent years (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved