Dr. Emma Heslop
Balearic Islands Coastal Ocean Observing and Forecasting System
SOCIB is the multi-platform coastal to open ocean observing and forecasting system for the Balearic Islands, Western Mediterranean Sea (Tintoré et al., 2013). Designed to leverage paradigm shifts in ocean observing to move from single platform, single research project to multi-platform and long-term sustained observations with open data. The challenge now is the integration of multi-platform observing and forecasting to understand the variability at small scales in order resolve from meso to submesoscale spatial scales and from weekly to sub-seasonal and inter-annual variability, and to harness the observations, forecasts and scientific knowledge for societal applications. Gliders with their ability to resolve key temporal and special variability are an important technological component of this.
The SOCIB Glider Facility has been operating endurance lines since 2011. The Ibiza Channel endurance line is quasi-continuous and monitors the variability of the basin scale circulation through a key intra-basin ‘choke point’, proto-endurance lines are in operation to the south and to the west of Mallorca. In the Ibiza Channel we have observed continuous high frequency (days-week) variability in the basin-scale circulation, significant interannual shifts in water mass and changes in heat exchange. Key drivers of this variability are extreme winter events to the north, which cause the formation of a cold intermediate winter mode water (Western Mediterranean Intermediate Water, WIW) and impact the properties of the Levantine Intermediate Water (LIW) flowing south from the Gulf of Lions, and the formation of eddies that ‘block’ the Ibiza Channel in spring and autumn. The high frequency (weekly) repeat of the glider endurance line transects allows for the identification of specific events, and the evaluation of trends, enabling a multi-level comparison with high-resolution data from models.
The success of the proto-endurance lines is in gathering observations in under sampled areas, regional capacity building and the gradual establishment of extended monitoring networks that deliver knowledge to science and society. To the south (Mallorca – Algeria) glider missions have evaluated the new Sentinel 3A mission (SAR instrument), sampled Algerian eddies and submesoscale coherent vortices, and are contributing to our knowledge of circulation variability. To the west (Mallorca – Sardinia with CNRS, Italy) we are initiating a new endurance line that includes micro-turbulence profiling.