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Spatio-temporal patterns in the north-western Mediterranean from MERIS derived chlorophyll a concentration
Ana Gordoa, Xenia Illas, Antonio Cruzado and Zoila Velásquez

We address the major surface signatures of chlorophyll a in the Catalan Sea within the context of the dynamics of the north-western Mediterranean basin. Monthly composites from MERIS measurements and CHL products for Case 1 waters were analysed from June 2002 to June 2005. Composite images of variability were used to identify surface dynamics. The results showed that coastal and open sea waters were separated by a belt of low variability, a permanent oligotrophic belt that is noticeable with respect to the bloom conditions of the surrounding areas. The width of this Catalan Oligotrophic Belt (COB) located along the continental slope, varied between 17 and 30 km and became blurred in the southernmost area. The chlorophyll a temporal pattern over the shelf showed an almost steady increase from September to March. A similar behaviour but with lower concentrations was observed in oceanic waters. Both temporal patterns showed a disruption during January and/or February that coincided with the well known deep water formation event in the Gulf of Lions. In 2004, the convection was weaker and the offshore temporal trend was not disrupted; however, the opposite was observed in 2005. The spatial chlorophyll a distribution of oceanic waters presented a clear north-south decreasing trend, while the coastal distribution did not show any latitudinal patterns but rather peaks in the areas enriched by river runoff. The observed seasonality was similar to the one published from SeaWiFS data and slightly different from the seasonality shown by CZCS data. Nevertheless, we did not discard the possibility that some of the observed seasonal differences could be a true temporal shift in chlorophyll a production.

Keywords: north-western Mediterranean, chlorophyll a, remote sensing, MERIS
Contents of this volume Sci. Mar. 72(4) : 757-767 Back PDF
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