02 May 2024
 | 02 May 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Monitoring the coastal-offshore water interactions in the Levantine Sea using ocean color and deep supervised learning

Georges Baaklini, Julien Brajard, Leila Issa, Gina Fifani, Laurent Mortier, and Roy El Hourany

Abstract. Understanding and tracking the surface circulation of the Levantine Sea presents significant challenges, particularly close to the coast. This difficulty arises due to two main factors: the limited availability of in-situ observations and the increasing inaccuracies in altimetry data close to the coastline. Here, we propose a new approach to monitor the interaction between offshore and coastal waters. In this approach, we develop a pattern detection model using deep learning by training the U-Net model on ocean color data to track the interactions between the coastal and offshore water in the Levantine Sea.

The results showed the presence of notable variations in the behavior of coastal currents as they progress northward beyond 33.8° E. As these coastal currents become increasingly unstable, they exhibit continuous pinching-off events that are missed by conventional observational tools. These pinching-off events, observed especially along the Lebanese coast, manifest in various patterns evolving simultaneously. Typically, these patterns have a relatively short lifespan of a few weeks, appearing and disappearing rapidly. However, these structures can evolve into larger eddies that endure over four months in some years, especially in the Northern part of the Lebanese coasts. Although these structures could be observed during all the seasons, spring consistently records the lowest activity of these structures. Overall, we showed that the pinching-off events were always observed in the eastern part of the Levantine Sea. On the contrary, in the southern part along the Egyptian coasts, the coastal flow is more stable in the southern region, where these events are less frequently observed, with more than 63 % of the total observations not exhibiting any pinching-off events. Moreover, when these events occur in the south, their spatial extent is notably limited.

This research not only sheds light on previously missed (or underestimated) coastal current dynamics in the Levantine Sea but also highlights the crucial need to increase in-situ observations to advance our understanding of this region’s complex oceanographic processes.

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Georges Baaklini, Julien Brajard, Leila Issa, Gina Fifani, Laurent Mortier, and Roy El Hourany

Status: open (until 27 Jun 2024)

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Georges Baaklini, Julien Brajard, Leila Issa, Gina Fifani, Laurent Mortier, and Roy El Hourany
Georges Baaklini, Julien Brajard, Leila Issa, Gina Fifani, Laurent Mortier, and Roy El Hourany


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Short summary
Understanding the flow of the Levantine Sea surface current is not straightforward. We propose a study based on learning techniques to follow interactions between water near the shore and further out at sea. Our results show changes in the coastal currents past 33.8° E, with frequent instances of water breaking away along the Lebanese coast. These events happen quickly and sometimes lead to long-lasting eddies. This study underscores the need for direct observations to improve our knowledge.