On the response of a turbulent coastal buoyant current to wind events: The case of the Western Adriatic Current

Marcello G. Magaldi, Tamay M. Özgökmen, Annalisa Griffa, Michel Rixen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


This numerical study focuses on the response of the Western Adriatic Current to wind forcing. The turbulent buoyant surface current is induced by the Po river outflow in the Adriatic Sea. Idealized and realistic wind conditions are considered by retaining the complex geomorphology of the middle Adriatic basin. In the absence of wind, the Adriatic Promontories force the current to separate from the coast and induce instabilities. Persistent 7-m s ∈-∈1 downwelling favorable northwesterly winds thicken and narrow the current. Instabilities whose size is ~10 km develop but ultimately vanish, since there is not enough across-shore space to grow. On the contrary, 7-m s∈-∈1 upwelling favorable southeasterly winds thin and widen the current, and instabilities can grow to form mesoscale (~35 km) features. When realistic winds are considered, the same trends are observed, but the state of the sea set up by previous wind events also plays a crucial role. The turbulent regimes set up by different winds affect mixing and the WAC meridional transport. With downwelling winds, the transport is generally southward and mixing happens mostly between the fresher (S≤38) salinity classes. With upwelling winds, the transport decreases and changes sign, and mixing mainly involves saltier (S∈>∈38) waters. In all cases, mixing is enhanced when a finer 0.5-km horizontal resolution is employed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-122
Number of pages30
JournalOcean Dynamics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Adriatic Sea
  • Cape
  • Gargano Promontory
  • Instabilities
  • Mesoscale variability
  • Mixing
  • Transport
  • Western Adriatic Current

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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