We identified the nature and driving mechanisms of subinertial variability (variability at a time scale of several days) in four fjords in Southeast Greenland, in three high‐resolution numerical simulations. We find two dominant frequency ranges in along‐fjord velocity, volume transport of Atlantic Water, and along‐fjord heat transport: one around 2–4 days and one around 10 days. The higher frequency is most prominent in the two smaller fjords (Sermilik Fjord and Kangerdlugssuaq Fjord), while the lower frequency peak dominates in the larger fjords (Scoresby Sund and King Oscar Fjord). The cross‐fjord structure of variability patterns is determined by the fjord's dynamic width, while the vertical structure is determined by the stratification in the fjord. The dominant frequency range is a function of stratification and fjord length, through the travel time of resonant internal Kelvin waves. We find that the subinertial variability is the imprint of Coastal Trapped Waves, which manifest as Rossby‐type waves on the continental shelf and as internal Kelvin‐type waves inside the fjords. Between 50% and 80% of the variability in the fjord is directly forced by Coastal Trapped Waves propagating in from the shelf, with an additional role played by alongshore wind forcing on the shelf.more » « less
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
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- DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
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- Journal Name:
- Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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null (Ed.)Abstract Ocean currents along the southeast Greenland coast play an important role in the climate system. They carry dense water over the Denmark Strait sill, freshwater from the Arctic and the Greenland Ice Sheet into the subpolar ocean, and warm Atlantic Ocean water into Greenland’s fjords, where it can interact with outlet glaciers. Observational evidence from moorings shows that the circulation in this region displays substantial subinertial variability (typically with periods of several days). For the dense water flowing over the Denmark Strait sill, this variability augments the time-mean transport. It has been suggested that the subinertial variability found in observations is associated with coastal trapped waves, whose properties depend on bathymetry, stratification, and the mean flow. Here, we use the output of a high-resolution realistic simulation to diagnose and characterize subinertial variability in sea surface height and velocity along the coast. The results show that the subinertial signals are coherent over hundreds of kilometers along the shelf. We find coastal trapped waves on the shelf and along the shelf break in two subinertial frequency bands—at periods of 1–3 and 5–18 days—that are consistent with a combination of mode-I waves and higher modes. Furthermore, we find that northeasterly barrier winds may trigger the 5–18-day shelf waves, whereas the 1–3-day variability is linked to high wind speeds over Sermilik Deep.more » « less
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