Observations of the summer Red Sea circulation

Sarantis S. Sofianos, William E. Johns

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94 Scopus citations


Aiming at exploring and understanding the summer circulation in the Red Sea, a cruise was conducted in the basin during the summer of 2001 involving hydrographic, meteorological, and direct current observations. The most prominent feature, characteristic of the summer circulation and exchange with the Indian Ocean, is a temperature, salinity, and oxygen minimum located around a depth of 75 m at the southern end of the basin, associated with Gulf of Aden Intermediate Water inflowing from the Gulf of Aden during the summer season as an intruding subsurface layer. Stirring and mixing with ambient waters lead to marked increases in temperature (from 16.5 to almost 33°C) and salinity (from 35.7 to more than 38 psu) in this layer by the time it reaches midbasin. The observed circulation presents a very vigorous pattern with strong variability and intense features that extend the width of the basin. A permanent cyclone, detected in the northern Red Sea, verifies previous observations and modeling studies, while in the central sector of the basin a series of very strong anticyclones were observed with maximum velocities exceeding 1 m/s. The three-layer flow pattern, representative of the summer exchange between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, is observed in the strait of Bab el Mandeb. In the southern part of the basin the layer flow is characterized by strong banking of the inflows and outflows against the coasts. Both surface and intermediate water masses involved in the summer Red Sea circulation present prominent spatial variability in their characteristics, indicating that the eddy field and mixing processes play an important role in the summer Red Sea circulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberC06025
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 8 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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