Hydrodynamic modelling of coastal seas: the role of tidal dynamics in the Messina Strait, Western Mediterranean Sea
Abstract. This work explores the importance of considering tidal dynamics when modelling the general circulation in the Messina Strait, a narrow passage connecting the Tyrrhenian and the Ionian subbasins in the Western Mediterranean Sea. The tides and the induced water circulation in this Strait are among the most intense oceanographic processes in the Mediterranean Sea. The quantification of these effects can be particularly relevant for operational oceanographic systems aimed to provide short-term predictions of the main hydrodynamics in the Western Mediterranean subbasins. A numerical approach based on the use of a high-resolution hydrodynamic model was followed to reproduce the tides propagation and the wind-induced and thermohaline water circulation within the Strait and in surrounding areas. A set of numerical simulations was carried out to quantify the role of the Strait dynamics on the larger-scale water circulation. The obtained results confirmed the importance of a correct representation of the hydrodynamics in the Messina Strait even when focusing on predicting the water circulation in the external sea traits. In fact, model results show that tidal dynamics deeply impact the reproduction of the instantaneous and residual circulation pattern, waters thermohaline properties and transport dynamics both inside the Messina Strait and in the surrounding coastal and open waters.