AbstractThe first in situ measurements of seawater density referred to a geographical position at sea and time of the year were carried out by Count Luigi Ferdinando Marsili between 1679 and 1680 in the Adriatic Sea, Aegean Sea, Marmara Sea and the Bosphorus Strait. Not only was this the first investigation with documented oceanographic measurements carried out at stations but the measurements were described in such an accurate way that we were able to reconstruct the observations in modern units. These first measurements concern the “specific gravity” of seawaters, i.e. the ratio between fluid densities. The data reported in the historical oceanographic treatise “Osservazioni intorno al Bosforo Tracio” (Marsili 1681) enabled us to reconstruct the seawater density at different geographic locations between 1679-1680. Marsili’s experimental methodology included the collection of surface and deep water samples, the analysis of the samples with a hydrostatic ampoule, and the use of a reference water to standardize the measurements. A comparison of reconstructed densities with present day values show an agreement within 10 – 20% uncertainty, owing to various aspects of the measurement methodology which are difficult to reconstruct from the documentary evidence. Marsili also measured the current speed and the depth of the current inversion in the Bosphorus Strait which are consistent with the present day knowledge. The experimental data collected in the Bosphorus enabled Marsili to enunciate a theory on the cause of the two-layer flow at the strait, demonstrated by his laboratory experiment, and later confirmed by many analytical and numerical studies.
Journal of Physical Oceanography – American Meteorological Society
Published: Feb 27, 2018
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