Currents in the Adriatic Sea

An incoming (NW) current is found along the eastern Adriatic coast, carrying the saline Levantine waters into the Adriatic, while less saline water flows out of the Adriatic along the western coast. The current gradients are the primarily cause for the general cyclonic (counterclockwise) circulation. The incoming current is more pronounced along the eastern coast in winter, while the outgoing current is more pronounced along the western coast in summer. This seasonal rhythm is primarily under the influence of gradient currents and the seasonal changes in the winds. In summer, the northwestern wind (maestral) is dominant, and it increases the outflow of marine waters in the surface layer, while the currents in winter are under the influence of the southeasterly wind (sirocco, jugo) that increases the inflow of marine water.

General scheme of sea currents in the Adriatic

General scheme of sea currents in the Adriatic

Seasonal distribution of surface sea currents in the Adriatic

Seasonal distribution of surface sea currents in the Adriatic

In addition to the general cyclonic circulation, there are several gyres in the Adriatic, the most significant of which is the southern Adriatic cyclonic gyre. Furthermore, gyre circulation also appears around certain topographic structures, such as the Jabuka depression. In the northern Adriatic, the characteristic northeasterly wind (bora) causes cyclonic circulation that creates high density waters in the northern Adriatic.

In the intermediate and deep layers of the Adriatic, the currents are under the influence of the thermohaline gradients. As such, the inflow of saline Levantine waters occurs along the eastern Adriatic coast, while in the deep layers at the Strait of Otrant, there is an outflow of the southern Adriatic waters. Also, after formation in the northern Adriatic, the dense northern Adriatic waters are transported towards the central and southern Adriatic in the deep layer, at a speed of 20 cm/s, thus mixing and altering the thermohaline properties of the central and southern Adriatic.

In defining individual models and simulations of possible hydrocarbon spills, it is necessary to consider the surface and deep currents, such that the actual models of possible hydrocarbon spills primarily depend on the deep currents. The surface and deep currents vary on a daily basis, and are under the influence of various factors that need to be considered when building the model.

Surface sea currents on 24th may 2015

Surface sea currents on 24th may 2015

Surface sea currents on 27th may 2015

Surface sea currents on 27th may 2015

Sea currents on 24th may 2015, sea depth 20 m

Sea currents on 24th may 2015, sea depth 20 m

Sea currents on 27th may 2015, sea depth 20 m

Sea currents on 27th may 2015, sea depth 20 m

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Željka Rukavina