skip to main content

Title: Alongstream, seasonal and interannual variability of the North Icelandic Irminger Current and East Icelandic Current around Iceland
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of geophysical research
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Data from repeat hydrographic surveys over the 25‐year period 1993 to 2017, together with satellite altimetry data, are used to quantify the temporal and spatial variability of the North Icelandic Irminger Current (NIIC), East Icelandic Current (EIC), and the water masses they advect around northern Iceland. We focus on the warm, salty Atlantic Water (AW) flowing northward through Denmark Strait and the cooler, fresher, denser Atlantic‐origin Overflow Water (AtOW) which has circulated cyclonically around the rim of the Nordic Seas before being advected to the Iceland slope via the EIC. The absolute geostrophic velocities reveal that approximately half of the NIIC recirculates just north of Denmark Strait, while the remaining half merges with the EIC to form a single current that extends to the northeast of Iceland, with no further loss in transport of either component. The AW percentage decreases by 75% over this distance, while the AtOW percentage is higher than that of the AW in the merged current. The NIIC and merged NIIC‐EIC are found to be baroclinically unstable, which causes the flow to become increasingly barotropic as it progresses around Iceland. A seasonal accounting of the water masses within the currents indicates that only in springtime is the NIIC dominated by AW inflow north of Denmark Strait. Overall, there is considerably more seasonal and along‐stream variability in the properties of the flow prior to the merging of the NIIC and EIC. Over the 25‐year time period, the NIIC became warmer, saltier, and increased in volume transport.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    The North Icelandic Irminger Current (NIIC) flowing northward through Denmark Strait is the main source of salt and heat to the north Iceland shelf. We quantify its along‐stream evolution using the first high‐resolution hydrographic/velocity survey north of Iceland that spans the entire shelf along with historical hydrographic measurements as well as data from satellites and surface drifters. The NIIC generally follows the shelf break. Portions of the flow recirculate near Denmark Strait and the Kolbeinsey Ridge. The current's volume transport diminishes northeast of Iceland before it merges with the Atlantic Water inflow east of Iceland. The hydrographic properties of the current are modified along its entire pathway, predominantly because of lateral mixing with cold, fresh offshore waters rather than air‐sea interaction. Progressing eastward, the NIIC cools and freshens by approximately 0.3°C and 0.02–0.03 g kg−1per 100 km, respectively, in both summer and winter. Dense‐water formation on the shelf is limited, occurring only sporadically in the historical record. The hydrographic properties of this locally formed water match the lighter portion of the North Icelandic Jet (NIJ), which emerges northeast of Iceland and transports dense water toward Denmark Strait. In the region northeast of Iceland, the NIIC is prone to baroclinic instability. Enhanced eddy kinetic energy over the steep slope there suggests a dynamical link between eddies shed by the NIIC and the formation of the NIJ as previously hypothesized. Thus, while the NIIC rarely supplies the NIJ directly, it may be dynamically important for the overturning circulation in the Nordic Seas.

    more » « less