The Mediterranean:
a small-scale laboratory


The physical processes that take place in the global ocean also take place in the Mediterranean Sea, which makes it a small scale ocean laboratory: it is an ideal system for studying the formation processes of eddies and the dynamics of currents.

Because of its geographic configuration, the Western Mediterranean is marked by an intense dynamical activity. It is the meeting point between the Atlantic waters which enter via the strait of Gibraltar and the much more saline Mediterranean waters. This dynamics is characterized by the generation and evolution of eddies and fronts, which is known as mesoscale activity. These highly variable processes can strongly impact climate evolution, biological activity, marine security, tourism and environment. In the Western Mediterranean Sea, they have spatial scales between 10 and 50 kilometers, approximately five times smaller than in the global ocean.

Evolution of the sea surface temperature in the Western Mediterranean Sea in 2013 as simulated by the high resolution numerical model used during the MEDCLIC project


One of the objectives of the "Medclic: the Mediterranean in one click" project is to investigate the variability of the mesoscale in the Mediterranean.

The scientific challenge in the next few years will be to understand how the oceanic circulation varies, day to day and kilometre to kilometre, to improve maritime and coastal management. The research project is focusing on the study of the interaction between the mesoscale activity and the general circulation during the period 2009-2013.

Thanks to the comparisons made between the simulations and the data obtained via the observation system, it is possible to evaluate the models used and study the interactions between the mesoscale and the general circulation.


Sea level evolution


Salinity, temperature and depth all affect the density of seawater. The density of seawater plays a vital role in causing ocean currents and circulating heat because of the fact that dense water sinks below less dense. 

Sea level evolution at  Western Mediterranean Sea between 2009 and 2015 by satellital altimetry

This animation shows the formation and evolution of eddies at Western Mediterranean Sea (2009-2015). Satellite radar altimeters measure the ocean surface height (sea level) by measuring the time it takes a radar pulse to make a round-trip from the satellite to the sea surface and back. We use satellite radar altimeter measurements of the ocean surface height (sea level). Ocean surface currents with a sufficiently strong thermal contrast, can be readily detected in sea surface temperature (SST) measurements.



The ICTS SOCIB is a multi-platform coastal observation and forecasting system. It provides data, products and services in response to the needs of marine and coastal research, technological developments and society, tackling issues such as beach erosion, water quality or climate change and its impact on the coast and coastal ecosystems.

Courtesy of Red ICTS Marinas (2011-2014) - Coordination IEO