Oceans and seas

Alboran Gyre

May 18, 2011, 11:41 am

The Alboran gyre refers to two anticyclonic gyres found in the Alboran Sea.  A swift surface current brings water from the Atlantic Ocean into the Alboran Sea through the Strait of Gibraltar at and near the surface.

caption Anticyclonic gyres of the Alboran Sea. Source: Hauschildt et. al.

As a result, the surface water of the Alboran sea exhibits lower saline Atlantic water mixing as it progresses eastward with the higher saline Mediterranean Sea water. The Atlantic current surrounds and feeds two anticyclonic gyres: The Western Alboran Gyre (WAG) and the Eastern Alboran Gyre (EAG).

Gyre Details

The overview circulation pattern in the upper layer of the Alboran Sea is a swift Atlantic current jet surrounding and feeding two anticyclonic gyres (i.e. clockwise as viewed from above in the northern hemisphere), which together are termed the Alboran Gyre: The Western Alboran Gyre and the Eastern Alboran Gyre (WAG, EAG). Approximately two thirds of Atlantic Ocean water entering the Strait of Giraltar participates in the kinetic energy and flow of the Alboran Gyre.

The circulation exhibits considerable variability, characterized by the stability of the two–gyre system in the summer months, and by a coastal jet usually called the Algerian Current flowing close to the African shore in the winter.

The eastern limit of the twin gyre system is termed the Almeria-Oran Front , a hydrodynamic barrier separating the Western Mediterranean from the Central Mediterranean.This Almeria-Oran Front follows a line extending approximately south-southeast from Cape de Gata in Spain to the Algerian coast.

Further Reading

  • Peter Saundry. 2011. Seas of the world. Topic ed. C.Michael Hogan. Ed-in-chief Cutler J.Cleveland
  • S. G. Speich, G. Madec, and M. Cr´epon. A strait outflow circulation process study: the case of the Alboran Sea. JPO, 26:320–340, 1996.
  • Doron Nof and Thierry Pichevin. The establishment of the Tsugaru and the Alboran gyres. JPO, 29:39–54, 1999.
  • Marc Hauschildt, Joachim Rinna, and Jürgen Rullkötter, Molecular Indicators of the supply of marine and terrigenous organic matter to a pleistocene organic-matter-rich layer in the Alboran Basin (Western Mediterranean Sea), Zahn, R., Comas, M.C., and Klaus, A. (Eds.), 1999 Proceedings of the Ocean Drilling Program, Scientific Results, Vol. 161


Hogan, C. (2011). Alboran Gyre. Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/149962


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