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Title: Submesoscale modulation of deep water formation in the Labrador Sea

Submesoscale structures fill the ocean surface, and recent numerical simulations and indirect observations suggest that they may extend to the ocean interior. It remains unclear, however, how far-reaching their impact may be—in both space and time, from weather to climate scales. Here transport pathways and the ultimate fate of the Irminger Current water from the continental slope to Labrador Sea interior are investigated through regional ocean simulations. Submesoscale processes modulate this transport and in turn the stratification of the Labrador Sea interior, by controlling the characteristics of the coherent vortices formed along West Greenland. Submesoscale circulations modify and control the Labrador Sea contribution to the global meridional overturning, with a linear relationship between time-averaged near surface vorticity and/or frontogenetic tendency along the west coast of Greenland, and volume of convected water. This research puts into contest the lesser role of the Labrador Sea in the overall control of the state of the MOC argued through the analysis of recent OSNAP (Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program) data with respect to estimates from climate models. It also confirms that submesoscale turbulence scales-up to climate relevance, pointing to the urgency of including its advective contribution in Earth systems models.

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Scientific Reports
Nature Publishing Group
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National Science Foundation
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