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The progress in knowledge of physical oceanography of the Gulf of Finland: a review for 1997-2007

Author(s): Tarmo Soomere | Kai Myrberg | Matti Leppäranta | Alexei Nekrasov

Journal: Oceanologia
ISSN 0078-3234

Volume: 50;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 287;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: Physical oceanography | European shelf seas | Baltic Sea | Gulf of Finland | Hydrography | Circulation | Sea level | Waves | Sea ice | Marine optics

The main findings of studies of the physical oceanography of the Gulf of Finland (GoF) during 1997-2007 are reviewed. The aim is to discuss relevant updates published in international peer-reviewed research papers and monographs, bearing in mind that a comprehensive overview of the studies up to the mid-1990s is available (Alenius et al. 1998). We start the discussion with updates on the basic hydrographical and stratification conditions, and progress in the understanding of atmospheric forcing and air-sea interaction. Advances in the knowledge of basin-scale and mesoscale dynamics are summarised next. Progress in circulation and water exchange dynamics has been achieved mostly by means of numerical studies. While the basic properties of circulation patterns in the gulf have been known for a century, new characteristics and tools such as water age, renewal index, and high-resolution simulations have substantially enriched our knowledge of processes in the Gulf of Finland during the last decade. We present the first overview of both status and advances in optical studies in this area. Awareness in this discipline has been significantly improved as a result of in situ measurements. Our understanding of the short- and long-term behaviour of the sea level as well as knowledge of the properties of both naturally and anthropogenically induced surface waves have expanded considerably during these ten years. Developments in understanding the ice conditions of the Gulf of Finland complete the overview, together with a short discussion of the gulf's future, including the response to climate change. Suggestions for future work are outlined.