Articles | Volume 10, issue 3
Review article
16 Jul 2018
Review article |  | 16 Jul 2018

Mediterranean Sea Hydrographic Atlas: towards optimal data analysis by including time-dependent statistical parameters

Athanasia Iona, Athanasios Theodorou, Sylvain Watelet, Charles Troupin, Jean-Marie Beckers, and Simona Simoncelli

Abstract. The goal of the present work is to provide the scientific community with a high-resolution atlas of temperature and salinity for the Mediterranean Sea based on the most recent datasets available and contribute to the studies of the long-term variability in the region. Data from the pan-European marine data infrastructure SeaDataNet were used, the most complete and, to our best knowledge, best quality dataset for the Mediterranean Sea as of today. The dataset is based on in situ measurements acquired between 1900 and 2015. The atlas consists of horizontal gridded fields produced by the Data-Interpolating Variational Analysis, in which unevenly spatial distributed measurements were interpolated onto a 1∕8°  ×  1∕8° regular grid on 31 depth levels. Seven different types of climatological fields were prepared with different temporal integration of observations. Monthly, seasonal and annual climatological fields have been calculated for all the available years, seasonal to annual climatologies for overlapping decades and specific periods. The seasonal and decadal time frames have been chosen in accordance with the regional variability and in coherence with atmospheric indices. The decadal and specific-period analysis was not extended to monthly resolution due to the lack of data, especially for the salinity. The Data-Interpolating Variational Analysis software has been used in the Mediterranean region for the SeaDataNet and its predecessor Medar/Medatlas Climatologies. In the present study, a more advanced optimization of the analysis parameters was performed in order to produce more detailed results. The past and present states of the Mediterranean region have been extensively studied and documented in a series of publications. The purpose of this atlas is to contribute to these climatological studies and get a better understanding of the variability on timescales from months to decades and longer. Our gridded fields provide a valuable complementary source of knowledge in regions where measurements are scarce, especially in critical areas of interest such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) regions and subregions. The dataset used for the preparation of the atlas is available from

The climatologies in netCDF are available at the following sources: annual climatology (, seasonal climatology for 57 running decades (, seasonal climatology (, annual climatology for 57 running decades (, seasonal climatology for six periods (, annual climatology for six periods (, monthly climatology (

Short summary
We compute a new, high-resolution hydrographic atlas for the Mediterranean Sea using the Data-Interpolating Variational Analysis technique and the latest SeaDataNet aggregated data collection in an effort to contribute to the studies of the long-term variability of the hydrological characteristics of the Mediterranean region and its climate change.