Exceptional dense water formation on the Adriatic shelf in the winter of 2012
In this paper we document dense water formation throughout the Adriatic shelf and coastal area in January/February 2012, resulting in record-breaking densities observed during and after the event. The unprecedented dense water generation was preconditioned by a dry and warm year which resulted in a significant reduction of coastal freshwaters, superimposed on a long-term basin-wide salinity increase. The final event that triggered the dense water formation was an extended period of cold weather with strong and severe winds. Record-breaking potential density anomalies (above 30 kg m −3) were measured at several formation sites. Accumulated surface net heat and water losses in some coastal regions exceeded 1.5 GJ m −2 and 250 kg m −2 over 21 days, respectively. Excessiveness, importance of shelf-type dense water formation and effects on the thermohaline circulation and deep aquatic systems are discussed.