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Sea Surface Circulation Structures in the Malta-Sicily Channel from Remote Sensing Data

Reyes Suarez, Nydia C., Cook, Michael S., Gačić, Miroslav, Paduan, Jeffrey D., Drago, Aldo, Cardin, Vanessa
Water 2019 v.11 no.8
chlorophyll, coasts, data collection, radar, remote sensing, satellites, spatial data, surface water temperature, topography, wind, Malta, Mediterranean region, Sicily
The Malta-Sicily Channel is part of the Sicily Channel system where water and thermohaline properties between the Eastern and Western Mediterranean basins take place. Several mesoscales features are detached from the main circulation due to wind and bathymetric forcing. In this paper, surface circulation structures are studied using different remotely sensed datasets: satellite data (absolute dynamic topography, Cross-Calibrated Multi-Platform wind vector analysis, satellite chlorophyll and sea surface temperature) and high frequency radar data. We identified high frequency motions (at short time scales—hours to days), as well as mesoscale structures fundamental for the understanding of the Malta-Sicily Channel circulation dynamics. One of those is the Malta-Sicily Gyre; an anticyclonic structure trapped between the Sicilian and Maltese coasts, which is poorly studied in the literature and often confused with the Malta Channel Crest and the Ionian Shelf Break Vortex. In order to characterize this gyre, we calculated its kinetic properties taking advantage of the fine-scale temporal and spatial resolution of the high frequency radar data, and thus confirming its presence with an updated version of the surface circulation patterns in the area.