The semienclosed western Mediterranean Sea has proven to be a useful location to evaluate surface heat flux estimates. In the past the directly measured average oceanic heat transport from the Atlantic into the Mediterranean Sea through the Strait of Gibraltar of similar to 5.2 +/- 1.3 W m(-2) has been compared to estimates of the average heat flux across the surface of the Mediterranean Sea. On long timescales both should closely balance each other. By using a monthly temperature climatology of the western Mediterranean Sea we offer the possibility to extend the comparison to the seasonal timescale. This gives additional information with which different surface heat flux data sets can be evaluated. The seasonal heat content changes of the western Mediterranean and the advective exchange of heat through the Straits of Gibraltar and Sicily are estimated on the basis of a new extensive hydrographic data set and of published values for the volume transports. To demonstrate the method, a limited number of surface heat flux data sets are compared with the oceanographically calculated counterpart. The comparison reveals that some heat fluxes do not only agree well for the long-term averages but also for the seasonal timescale, whereas others show larger deviations. The remaining rms discrepancies of +/-10.2 W m(-2) for the best heat flux data set are smaller than the uncertainty of the oceanographic estimate and of a reasonable magnitude compared to the uncertainty of the long-term average of similar to 5 W m(-2).
335TJTimes Cited:2Cited References Count:34