Changes in the Adriatic oceanographic properties induced by the Eastern Mediterranean Transient
Long-term time series of physical and chemical parameters collected between 1960 and 2010 along the Palagruža Sill transect, Middle Adriatic Sea, have been investigated in terms of average water properties and their variability. Nutrients, especially orthophosphates, reached rather high levels of concentration below the euphotic zone between 1991 and 1998, the highest levels in the investigated period. Simultaneously, the N:P ratio, which is normally higher than 25:1, decreased to values less than 16:1 in the euphotic zone, indicating a switch from typical phosphorus to nitrogen- limited preconditioning for the primary production. Higher-than-usual nutrient levels peaking in the mid-1990s, coupled with lower-than-usual temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and pH values, are presumably related to the flow of the nutrient richer Western Mediterranean waters to the Adriatic below the euphotic layer. These waters, which keep their footprint in the N:P ratio, enter the Adriatic during the anticyclonic phase of the Bimodal Adriatic-Ionian Oscillation (BiOS), which has been uniquely strengthened by the Eastern Mediterranean Transient occurring in the early 1990s. This hypothesis should be confirmed through targeted research and modelling exercises, as it is highly relevant for the biogeochemistry of the Adriatic Sea.