The effect of cyclones crossing the Mediterranean region on sea level anomalies on the Mediterranean Sea coast

Lionello, Piero; Conte, Dario; Reale, Marco

Large positive and negative sea level anomalies on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea are linked to intensity and position of cyclones moving along the Mediterranean storm track with dynamics involving different factors. This analysis is based on a model hindcast and considers nine coastal stations, which are representative of sea level anomalies with different magnitudes and characteristics. When a shallow water fetch is present, the wind around the cyclone centre is the main cause of positive and negative sea level anomalies, depending on its onshore or offshore direction. The inverse barometer effect produces a positive anomaly on the coast near the cyclone pressure minimum and a negative anomaly at the opposite side of the Mediterranean Sea. The latter is caused by the cross-basin mean sea level pressure gradient that is associated with the presence of a cyclone. This often coincides with the presence of an anticyclone above the station, which causes a local negative inverse barometer effect. Further, at some stations, negative sea level anomalies are reinforced by a residual water mass redistribution within the basin, which is associated with a transient response to the atmospheric pressure forcing. Though the link with the presence of a cyclone in the Mediterranean has comparable importance for positive and negative anomalies, the relation between cyclone position and intensity is stronger for the magnitude of positive events. The area of cyclogenesis, track of the central minimum and position at the time of the event differ depending on the location the sea level anomaly occurs and on its sign. The western Mediterranean is the main cyclogenesis area for both positive and negative anomalies overall. Atlantic cyclones mainly produce positive sea level anomalies in the western basin. At the easternmost stations, positive anomalies are caused by cyclogenesis in the eastern Mediterranean. North African cyclogenesis is a major source of positive anomalies on the central African coast and negative anomalies on the eastern Mediterranean and northern Aegean coasts.

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Lionello, Piero / Conte, Dario / Reale, Marco: The effect of cyclones crossing the Mediterranean region on sea level anomalies on the Mediterranean Sea coast. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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Rechteinhaber: Piero Lionello et al.

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