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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 21, 2023
  2. 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 windsmore »may trigger the 5–18-day shelf waves, whereas the 1–3-day variability is linked to high wind speeds over Sermilik Deep.« less
  3. Abstract Theories of the Beaufort Gyre (BG) dynamics commonly represent the halocline as a single layer with a thickness depending on the Eulerian-mean and eddy-induced overturning. However, observations suggest that the isopycnal slope increases with depth, and a theory to explain this profile remains outstanding. Here we develop a multilayer model of the BG, including the Eulerian-mean velocity, mesoscale eddy activity, diapycnal mixing, and lateral boundary fluxes, and use it to investigate the dynamics within the Pacific Winter Water (PWW) layer. Using theoretical considerations, observational data, and idealized simulations, we demonstrate that the eddy overturning is critical in explaining the observed vertical structure. In the absence of the eddy overturning, the Ekman pumping and the relatively weak vertical mixing would displace isopycnals in a nearly parallel fashion, contrary to observations. This study finds that the observed increase of the isopycnal slope with depth in the climatological state of the gyre is consistent with a Gent–McWilliams eddy diffusivity coefficient that decreases by at least 10%–40% over the PWW layer. We further show that the depth-dependent eddy diffusivity profile can explain the relative magnitude of the correlated isopycnal depth and layer thickness fluctuations on interannual time scales. Our inference that the eddymore »overturning generates the isopycnal layer thickness gradients is consistent with the parameterization of eddies via a Gent–McWilliams scheme but not potential vorticity diffusion. This study implies that using a depth-independent eddy diffusivity, as is commonly done in low-resolution ocean models, may contribute to misrepresentation of the interior BG dynamics.« less
  4. Abstract Computational oceanography is the study of ocean phenomena by numerical simulation, especially dynamical and physical phenomena. Progress in information technology has driven exponential growth in the number of global ocean observations and the fidelity of numerical simulations of the ocean in the past few decades. The growth has been exponentially faster for ocean simulations, however. We argue that this faster growth is shifting the importance of field measurements and numerical simulations for oceanographic research. It is leading to the maturation of computational oceanography as a branch of marine science on par with observational oceanography. One implication is that ultraresolved ocean simulations are only loosely constrained by observations. Another implication is that barriers to analyzing the output of such simulations should be removed. Although some specific limits and challenges exist, many opportunities are identified for the future of computational oceanography. Most important is the prospect of hybrid computational and observational approaches to advance understanding of the ocean.
  5. 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.
  6. Abstract The Denmark Strait Overflow (DSO) is an important contributor to the lower limb of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). Determining DSO formation and its pathways is not only important for local oceanography but also critical to estimating the state and variability of the AMOC. Despite prior attempts to understand the DSO sources, its upstream pathways and circulation remain uncertain due to short-term (3–5 days) variability. This makes it challenging to study the DSO from observations. Given this complexity, this study maps the upstream pathways and along-pathway changes in its water properties, using Lagrangian backtracking of the DSO sources in a realistic numerical ocean simulation. The Lagrangian pathways confirm that several branches contribute to the DSO from the north such as the East Greenland Current (EGC), the separated EGC (sEGC), and the North Icelandic Jet (NIJ). Moreover, the model results reveal additional pathways from south of Iceland, which supplied over 16% of the DSO annually and over 25% of the DSO during winter of 2008, when the NAO index was positive. The southern contribution is about 34% by the end of March. The southern pathways mark a more direct route from the near-surface subpolar North Atlantic to the Northmore »Atlantic Deep Water (NADW), and needs to be explored further, with in situ observations.« less