In the present study, ocean current conditions in the Ionian Sea are studied by implementing our inhouse hydrodynamic 3D ocean model SINMOD. The model is a fully coupled ocean model with hydrodynamics, ecology and sea ice, and it has been developed at SINTEF since 1987. SINMOD resolves sufficiently well the circulation dynamics of the oceans. Validation of the model has been performed throughout all these years using not only measurements of current, salinity and temperature but also data of primary production.
The model has run in a double nested setup with an outer grid of 20 km resolution for the North Atlantic, which gave input to another grid for the Mediterranean with 4 km resolution, which again gave input to a finer grid with resolution 800 m of the Ionian Sea. Other input includes ERA5 atmospheric parameters for the period 2010–2019, as well as information concerning freshwater influx (main rivers) and tides. The analysis of results includes monthly, annual and interannual variability of fields of temprature, salinity, currents and wind at sea surface, and a diagonal cross–section along the Ionian Sea. The largest variability is exhibited by currents and wind speed, followed by temperature, and the lowest by salinity.
Many studies in the past have highlighted the importance of the Ionian Sea as it is a region where water masses meet and interact; see, e.g.,Budillon et al. (2010), Gačić et al. (2010), Kalimeris and Kassis (2020), and references therein. In west, the Ionian Sea is connected to the Western Mediterranean via the Strait of Sicily, the Levantine Sea in South East, the Aegean Sea in East and the Adriatic Sea in North via the Otranto Strait. The southern Adriatic Sea is the traditional “engine” of the Eastern Mediterranean internal conveyor belt, which is the main and historical contributor to the deep and bottom waters of the Ionian and Levantine basins, from which the Adriatic Deep Water (ADW) exits crossing the Otranto Straits (Budillon et al., 2010).