Gulf of Trieste - Slovenia
Gulf of Trieste
The separation line of the semi-enclosed northern basin from the rest of the Adriatic Sea is conventionally defined at the 100 m isobath, at about 43°20’N, from where the bottom depth moderately decreases up to the northern coast reaching the smallest average depth in the northernmost protrusion of the basin, the Gulf of Trieste (surface area 600 km2, volume 9.5 km3, maximal depth approx. 25 m). The oceanographic properties of Gulf of Trieste are affected by water mass exchange with the northern Adriatic at the open western boundary, by local meteorological conditions that induce a pronounced seasonal cycle of seawater temperature (6 - 28 oC) and by the largest freshwater input, the Soča (Isonzo) River. The latter enters the Gulf on the shallower northern coastline with an average flow of 123 m3 s-1 and represents the major source of land-borne nutrients in this coastal zone, in particular of nitrate, whereas inputs along the south-eastern coast are comparatively small (contributing less than 10% to the freshwater balance in the Gulf). The circulation pattern is variable, however the prevailing ENE wind is the most efficient for the water exchange, especially during winter. These physical features, in addition to freshwater inputs, are ultimately reflected in the distribution of nutrients and in the seasonal and inter-annual variability of plankton communities, primary production but also in events of hypoxia/anoxia and mucous macroaggregates, which have characterised the whole northern Adriatic basin in the recent past. The waters of the Gulf of Trieste have been monitored for several physical-chemical and biological variables since 70s’ but the longest and most continuous data set of biological variables is represented by the phytoplankton time series, which started in 1990 when the national monitoring programme has become operational (set by Slovenian Environmental Agency). From 2007 onwards, the monitoring programme complies with the regulations of the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC).
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