Transport and Mixing Dynamics on Coastal Phytoplankton Patches during Summer Breeze Season

Understanding coastal Mediterranean ecosystems requires an understanding of the relationship between sea/land breeze and coastal circulation, as well as the role of wind-driven dynamics. These coastal areas are especially complex, with high-variable processes driving biological phenomena on a variety of time scales.

The availability of hydrodynamic studies on coastal water circulation and its impact on primary producers is low, especially in the Tyrrhenian Sea, where available data on coastal dynamics is limited to large-scale general circulation with a focus solely on mesoscale pelagic dynamical processes.

During periods of good weather, especially during the summer, regular patterns of local breeze circulation dominate the Tyrrhenian coastal waters. The coastal phytoplankton patches are modulated by these winds, which trigger coastal currents and buoyancy-derived motions.

Approximately 30% of the Italian population lives in the land-sea transition region, and recreational activity raises the population in these coastal areas during the summer season, putting additional human pressure on the coastal systems. As a result, a better understanding of the coastal processes that are important for environmental and navigational purposes is needed.

The effect of sea/land breeze circulation on current dynamics and water column structures in a Northern Tyrrhenian coastal site is documented in this paper using physical and biological data. Coastal currents are primarily driven by tide and local wind, and they respond quickly to changes in wind direction, according to in situ data. Thermal structure studies of the water column show major changes with the morning breeze rotation: raising of isotherms (cooling) was usually observed in deep layers during early mornings, followed by isotherm fluctuations.

Author (s) Details

R. Martellucci
National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics – OGS, Italy.

A. Pierattini
Ente Fauna Marina Mediterranea, Avola, Italy.

F. Paladini de Mendoza
Ente Fauna Marina Mediterranea, Avola, Italy.

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