Satellite retrievals of surface evaporation and precipitation from the Hamburg Ocean Atmosphere Parameters and Fluxes from Satellite Data (HOAPS-3) dataset are used to document the distribution of evaporation, precipitation, and freshwater flux over the Mediterranean and Black Seas. An analysis is provided of the major scales of temporal and spatial variability of the freshwater budget and the atmospheric processes responsible for the water flux changes. The satellite evaporation fluxes are compared with fields from three different reanalysis datasets [40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40), ERA-Interim, and NCEP].
The results show a water deficit in the Mediterranean region that averages to about 2.4 mm day?1 but with a significant east–west asymmetry ranging from 3.5 mm day?1 in the eastern part to about 1.1 mm day?1 in the western part of the basin. The zonal asymmetry in the water deficit is driven by evaporation differences that are in turn determined by variability in the air–sea humidity difference in the different parts of the Mediterranean basin. The Black Sea freshwater deficit is 0.5 mm day?1, with maxima off the northern coast (0.9 mm day?1) that are attributed to both evaporation maxima and precipitation minima there.
The trend analysis of the freshwater budget shows that the freshwater deficit increases in the 1988–2005 period. The prominent increase in the eastern part of the basin is present in the satellite and all three reanalysis datasets. The water deficit is due to increases in evaporation driven by increasing sea surface temperature, while precipitation does not show any consistent trends in the period. Similarly, in the Black Sea, trends in the freshwater deficit are mainly due to evaporation, although year-to-year variability is due to precipitation patterns.