Abrupt climate shift in the Western Mediterranean Sea.
Bryden, H. L.
Ben Ismail, Sana
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One century of oceanographic measurements has evidenced gradual increases in temperature and salinity of western Mediterranean water masses, even though the vertical stratification has basically remained unchanged. Starting in 2005, the basic structure of the intermediate and deep layers abruptly changed. We report here evidence of reinforced thermohaline variability in the deep western basin with significant dense water formation events producing large amounts of warmer, saltier and denser water masses than ever before. We provide a detailed chronological order to these changes, giving an overview of the new water masses and following their route from the central basin interior to the east (toward the Tyrrhenian) and toward the Atlantic Ocean. As a consequence of this climate shift, new deep waters outflowing through Gibraltar will impact the North Atlantic in terms of salt and heat input. In addition, modifications in the Mediterranean abyssal ecosystems and biogeochemical cy.....