Northbound Transport of the Mediterranean Outflow and the Role of Time-Dependent Chaotic Advection

Ori Saporta-Katz*, Nadav Mantel, Rotem Liran, Vered Rom-Kedar, Hezi Gildor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Mediterranean Sea releases approximately 1 Sv of water into the North Atlantic through the Gibraltar Straits, forming the saline Mediterranean Outflow Water (MOW). Its impact on large-scale flow and specifically its northbound Lagrangian pathways are widely debated, yet a comprehensive overview of MOW pathways over recent decades is lacking. We calculate and analyze synthetic Lagrangian trajectories in 1980–2020 reanalysis velocity data. Sixteen percent of the MOW follow a direct northbound path to the sub-polar gyre, reaching a 1,000 m depth crossing window at the southern tip of Rockall Ridge in about 10 years. Surprisingly, time-dependent chaotic advection, not steady currents, drives over half of the northbound transport. Our results suggest a potential 15–20 years predictability in the direct northbound transport. Additionally, monthly variability appears more significant than inter-annual variability in Lagrangian mixing and spreading the MOW.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2023GL105662
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - 28 Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024. The Authors. Geophysical Research Letters published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Geophysical Union.


  • Lagrangian trajectories
  • Mediterranean Outflow Water
  • northbound transport
  • spreading and mixing
  • sub-polar gyre index
  • time-dependent chaotic advection


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