Box Modeling of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea
Recently (~1990) a new source of deep water formation in the Eastern Mediterranean was found in the southern part of the Aegean sea. Till then, the only source of deep water formation in the Eastern Mediterranean was in the Adriatic sea; the rate of the deep water formation of the new Aegean source is 1Sv, three times larger than the Adriatic source. We develop a simple 3 box-model to study the stability of the thermohaline circulation of the Eastern Mediterranean sea. The 3 boxes represent the Adriatic sea, Aegean sea, and the Ionian sea. The boxes exchange heat and salinity and may be described by a set of nonlinear differential equations.
We analyze these equations and find that the system may have one, two, or four stable flux states. We consider two cases for which the temperatures of the boxes are (i) fixed or (ii) variable. After setting the parameters to correspond to the Eastern Mediterranean we find that the system has two stable states, one with (i) two thermally dominant sources of deep water formation in the Adriatic and Aegean and the other with (ii) a salinity dominant source of deep water formation in the Adriatic and a thermally dominant source in the Aegean. While the Adriatic thermally dominant source is comparable to the observed flux of 0.3Sv the Aegean source has much smaller flux than the observed value. This situation is analogous to the state of the thermohaline circulation pre 1990 where the only source of deep water formation was in the Adriatic.
If we decrease the atmospheric temperature of the Aegean box by 2°C, in accordance with recent observations, we find that the deep water formation of the Aegean increases significantly to a value comparable to the recently observed flux. Our model also suggests that under a different scenario where the salinity flux of the Aegean box is positive instead of negative, the drop in atmospheric temperature over the Aegean may not result in the formation of a new source of deep water.