The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Mediterranean sea

For the mediterranean sea between Europe and Africa, see the Mediterranean Sea.

A mediterranean sea, in oceanography, is a mostly enclosed sea that has limited exchange of deep water with outer oceans and where the water circulation is dominated by salinity and temperature differences rather than winds.

There are two types of mediterranean sea. A concentration basin has a higher salinity than the outer ocean due to evaporation, and its water exchange consists of inflow of the fresher oceanic water in the upper layer and outflow of the saltier mediterranean water in the lower layer of the connecting channel.

A dilution basin has a lower salinity due to freshwater gains such as rainfall and rivers, and its water exchange consists of outflow of the fresher mediterranean water in the upper layer and inflow of the saltier oceanic water in the lower layer of the channel. Renewal of deep water may not be sufficient to supply oxygen to the bottom.

List of mediterranean seas

The mediterranean seas of the Atlantic Ocean:

The mediterranean seas of the Indian Ocean:

The mediterranean sea between the Indian and Pacific Oceans:

The Red Sea and the Persian Gulf are concentration basins. The Eurafrican Mediterranean Sea is also a concentration basin as a whole, but the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea are dilution basins due to the Danube, Don, and Dnieper Rivers and the Po River respectively. Other mediterranean seas are dilution basins.

Hudson Bay is so shallow it functions like a huge estuary. Having shallow channels and deep basins, the Sea of Japan could form a mediterranean sea, but the strong currents from the Pacific prevent it from having an independent water circulation.


Matthias Tomczak and J. Stuart Godfrey. 2003. Regional Oceanography: an Introduction. (see the site)

Last updated: 05-16-2005 14:52:34