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- Journal of Physical Oceanography
- Medium: X
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- National Science Foundation
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Abstract Recent mooring measurements from the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program have revealed abundant cyclonic eddies at both sides of Cape Farewell, the southern tip of Greenland. In this study, we present further observational evidence, from both Eulerian and Lagrangian perspectives, of deep cyclonic eddies with intense rotation ( 𝜁 / f > 1) around southern Greenland and into the Labrador Sea. Most of the observed cyclones exhibit strongest rotation below the surface (700-1000 dbar), where maximum azimuthal velocities are ~30 cm/s at radii of ~10 km, with rotational periods of 2-3 days. The cyclonic rotation can extend to the deep overflow water layer (below 1800 dbar), albeit with weaker azimuthal velocities (~10 cm/s) and longer rotational periods of about one week. Within the mid-depth rotation cores, the cyclones are in near solid-body rotation and have the potential to trap and transport water. The first high-resolution hydrographic transect across such a cyclone indicates that it is characterized by a local (both vertically and horizontally) potential vorticity maximum in its core and cold, fresh anomalies in the overflow water layer, suggesting its source as the Denmark Strait outflow. Additionally, the propagation and evolution of the cyclonic eddies are illustrated with deep Lagrangian floats, including their detachments from the boundary currents to the basin interior. Taken together, the combined Eulerian and Lagrangian observations have provided new insights on the boundary current variability and boundary-interior exchange over a geographically large scale near southern Greenland, calling for further investigations on the (sub)mesoscale dynamics in the region.more » « less
null (Ed.)Abstract The structure, transport, and seasonal variability of the West Greenland boundary current system near Cape Farewell are investigated using a high-resolution mooring array deployed from 2014 to 2018. The boundary current system is comprised of three components: the West Greenland Coastal Current, which advects cold and fresh Upper Polar Water (UPW); the West Greenland Current, which transports warm and salty Irminger Water (IW) along the upper slope and UPW at the surface; and the Deep Western Boundary Current, which advects dense overflow waters. Labrador Sea Water (LSW) is prevalent at the seaward side of the array within an offshore recirculation gyre and at the base of the West Greenland Current. The 4-yr mean transport of the full boundary current system is 31.1 ± 7.4 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 10 6 m 3 s −1 ), with no clear seasonal signal. However, the individual water mass components exhibit seasonal cycles in hydrographic properties and transport. LSW penetrates the boundary current locally, through entrainment/mixing from the adjacent recirculation gyre, and also enters the current upstream in the Irminger Sea. IW is modified through air–sea interaction during winter along the length of its trajectory around the Irminger Sea, which converts some of the water to LSW. This, together with the seasonal increase in LSW entering the current, results in an anticorrelation in transport between these two water masses. The seasonality in UPW transport can be explained by remote wind forcing and subsequent adjustment via coastal trapped waves. Our results provide the first quantitatively robust observational description of the boundary current in the eastern Labrador Sea.more » « less
Arctic‐origin and Greenland meltwaters circulate cyclonically in the boundary current system encircling the Labrador Sea. The ability of this freshwater to penetrate the interior basin has important consequences for dense water formation and the lower limb of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. However, the precise mechanisms by which the freshwater is transported offshore, and the magnitude of this flux, remain uncertain. Here, we investigate wind‐driven upwelling northwest of Cape Farewell using 4 years of high‐resolution data from the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program west Greenland mooring array, deployed from September 2014–2018, along with Argo, shipboard, and atmospheric reanalysis data. A total of 49 upwelling events were identified corresponding to enhanced northwesterly winds, followed by reduced along‐stream flow of the boundary current and anomalously dense water present on the outer shelf. The events occur during the development stage of forward Greenland tip jets. During the storms, a cross‐stream Ekman cell develops that transports freshwater offshore in the surface layer and warm, saline, Atlantic‐origin waters onshore at depth. The net fluxes of heat and freshwater for a representative storm are computed. Using a one‐dimensional mixing model, it is shown that the freshwater input resulting from the locus of winter storms could significantly limit the wintertime development of the mixed layer and hence the production of Labrador Sea Water in the southeastern part of the basin.
The Greenland Ice Sheet is losing mass at an accelerating pace, increasing its contribution to the freshwater input into the Nordic Seas and the subpolar North Atlantic. It has been proposed that this increased freshwater may impact the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation by affecting the stratification of the convective regions of the North Atlantic and Nordic Seas. Observations of the transformation and pathways of meltwater from the Greenland Ice Sheet on the continental shelf and in the gyre interior, however, are lacking. Here, we report on noble gas derived observations of submarine meltwater distribution and transports in the East and West Greenland Current Systems of southern Greenland and around Cape Farewell. In southeast Greenland, submarine meltwater is concentrated in the East Greenland Coastal Current core with maximum concentrations of 0.8%, thus significantly diluted relative to fjord observations. It is found in water with density ranges from 1,024 to 1027.2 kg m−3and salinity from 30.6 to 34, which extends as deep as 250 m and as far offshore as 60 km on the Greenland shelf. Submarine meltwater transport on the shelf averages 5.0 ± 1.6 mSv which, if representative of the mean annual transport, represents 60%–80% of the total solid ice discharge from East Greenland and suggests relatively little offshore export of meltwater east and upstream of Cape Farewell. The location of the meltwater transport maximum shifts toward the shelfbreak around Cape Farewell, positioning the meltwater for offshore flux in regions of known cross‐shelf exchange along the West Greenland coast.
The North Icelandic Jet (NIJ) is an important source of dense water to the overflow plume passing through Denmark Strait. The properties, structure, and transport of the NIJ are investigated for the first time along its entire pathway following the continental slope north of Iceland, using 13 hydrographic/velocity surveys of high spatial resolution conducted between 2004 and 2018. The comprehensive dataset reveals that the current originates northeast of Iceland and increases in volume transport by roughly 0.4 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 10 6 m 3 s −1 ) per 100 km until 300 km upstream of Denmark Strait, at which point the highest transport is reached. The bulk of the NIJ transport is confined to a small area in Θ– S space centered near −0.29° ± 0.16°C in Conservative Temperature and 35.075 ± 0.006 g kg −1 in Absolute Salinity. While the hydrographic properties of this transport mode are not significantly modified along the NIJ’s pathway, the transport estimates vary considerably between and within the surveys. Neither a clear seasonal signal nor a consistent link to atmospheric forcing was found, but barotropic and/or baroclinic instability is likely active in the current. The NIJ displays a double-core structure in roughly 50% of the occupations, with the two cores centered at the 600- and 800-m isobaths, respectively. The transport of overflow water 300 km upstream of Denmark Strait exceeds 1.8 ± 0.3 Sv, which is substantially larger than estimates from a year-long mooring array and hydrographic/velocity surveys closer to the strait, where the NIJ merges with the separated East Greenland Current. This implies a more substantial contribution of the NIJ to the Denmark Strait overflow plume than previously envisaged.more » « less