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Creators/Authors contains: "Foukal, Nicholas P."

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  1. Abstract

    We present the first continuous mooring records of the West Greenland Coastal Current (WGCC), a conduit of fresh, buoyant outflow from the Arctic Ocean and the Greenland Ice Sheet. Nearly two years of temperature, salinity, and velocity data from 2018 to 2020 demonstrate that the WGCC on the southwest Greenland shelf is a well-formed current distinct from the shelfbreak jet but exhibits strong chaotic variability in its lateral position on the shelf, ranging from the coastline to the shelf break (50 km offshore). We calculate the WGCC volume and freshwater transports during the 35% of the time when the mooring array fully bracketed the current. During these periods, the WGCC remains as strong (0.83 ± 0.02 Sverdrups; 1 Sv ≡ 106m3s−1) as the East Greenland Coastal Current (EGCC) on the southeast Greenland shelf (0.86 ± 0.05 Sv) but is saltier than the EGCC and thus transports less liquid freshwater (30 × 10−3Sv in the WGCC vs 42 × 10−3Sv in the EGCC). These results indicate that a significant portion of the liquid freshwater in the EGCC is diverted from the coastal current as it rounds Cape Farewell. We interpret the dominant spatial variability of the WGCC as an adjustment to upwelling-favorable wind forcing on the West Greenland shelf and a separation from the coastal bathymetric gradient. An analysis of the winds near southern Greenland supports this interpretation, with nonlocal winds on the southeast Greenland shelf impacting the WGCC volume transport more strongly than local winds over the southwest Greenland shelf.

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  2. Abstract. The pathways and fate of freshwater in the East Greenland Coastal Current (EGCC) are crucial to the climate system. The EGCC transports large amounts of freshwater in close proximity to sites of deep open-ocean convection in the Labrador and Irminger seas. Many studies have attempted to analyze this system from models and various observational platforms, but the modeling results largely disagree with one another, and observations are limited due to the harsh conditions typical of the region. Altimetry-derived surface currents, constructed from remote-sensing observations and applying geostrophic equations, provide a continuous observational data set beginning in 1993. However, these products have historically encountered difficulties in coastal regions, and thus their validity must be checked. In this work, we use a comprehensive methodology to compare these Eulerian data to a Lagrangian data set of 34 surface drifter trajectories and demonstrate that the altimetry-derived surface currents are surprisingly capable of recovering the spatial structure of the flow field on the south Greenland shelf and can mimic the Lagrangian nature of the flow as observed from surface drifters.

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  3. null (Ed.)
    Export from the Arctic and meltwater from the Greenland Ice Sheet together form a southward-flowing coastal current along the East Greenland shelf. This current transports enough fresh water to substantially alter the large-scale circulation of the North Atlantic, yet the coastal current’s origin and fate are poorly known due to our lack of knowledge concerning its north-south connectivity. Here, we demonstrate how the current negotiates the complex topography of Denmark Strait using in situ data and output from an ocean circulation model. We determine that the coastal current north of the strait supplies half of the transport to the coastal current south of the strait, while the other half is sourced from offshore via the shelfbreak jet, with little input from the Greenland Ice Sheet. These results indicate that there is a continuous pathway for Arctic-sourced fresh water along the entire East Greenland shelf from Fram Strait to Cape Farewell. 
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  4. Abstract

    The oceanographic response and atmospheric forcing associated with downwelling along the Alaskan Beaufort Sea shelf/slope is described using mooring data collected from August 2002 to September 2004, along with meteorological time series, satellite data, and reanalysis fields. In total, 55 downwelling events are identified with peak occurrence in July and August. Downwelling is initiated by cyclonic low‐pressure systems displacing the Beaufort High and driving westerly winds over the region. The shelfbreak jet responds by accelerating to the east, followed by a depression of isopycnals along the outer shelf and slope. The storms last 3.25 ± 1.80 days, at which point conditions relax toward their mean state. To determine the effect of sea ice on the oceanographic response, the storms are classified into four ice seasons: open water, partial ice, full ice, and fast ice (immobile). For a given wind strength, the largest response occurs during partial ice cover, while the most subdued response occurs in the fast ice season. Over the two‐year study period, the winds were strongest during the open water season; thus, the shelfbreak jet intensified the most during this period and the cross‐stream Ekman flow was largest. During downwelling, the cold water fluxed off the shelf ventilates the upper halocline of the Canada Basin. The storms approach the Beaufort Sea along three distinct pathways: a northerly route from the high Arctic, a westerly route from northern Siberia, and a southerly route from south of Bering Strait. Differences in the vertical structure of the storms are presented as well.

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  5. Abstract

    The Mid‐Pleistocene Transition (MPT, 1,200–600 ka) marks the rapid expansion of Northern Hemisphere (NH) continental ice sheets and stronger precession pacing of glacial/interglacial cyclicity. Here, we investigate the relationship between thermocline depth in the central North Atlantic, subsurface northward heat transport and the initiation of the 100‐kyr cyclicity during the MPT. To reconstruct deep‐thermocline temperatures, we generated a Mg/Ca‐based temperature record of deep‐dwelling (∼800 m) planktonic foraminifera from mid‐latitude North Atlantic at Site U1313. This record shows phases of pronounced heat accumulation at subsurface levels during the mid‐MPT glacial driven by increased outflow of the Mediterranean Sea. Concurrent warming of the subtropical thermocline and subpolar surface waters indicates enhanced (subsurface) inter‐gyre transport of warm water to the subpolar North Atlantic, which provided moisture for ice‐sheet growth. Precession‐modulated variability in the northward transport of subtropical waters imprinted this orbital cyclicity into NH ice‐sheets after Marine Isotope Stage 24.

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