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  1. Abstract Water mass transformation in the Nordic and Barents Seas, triggered by air-sea heat fluxes, is an integral component of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). These regions are undergoing rapid warming, associated with a retreat in ice cover. Here we present an analysis covering 1950−2020 of the spatiotemporal variability of the air-sea heat fluxes along the region’s boundary currents, where water mass transformation impacts are large. We find there is an increase in the air-sea heat fluxes along these currents that is a function of the currents’ orientation relative to the axis of sea-ice change suggesting enhanced water massmore »transformation is occurring. Previous work has shown a reduction in heat fluxes in the interior of the Nordic Seas. As a result, a reorganization seems to be underway in where water mass transformation occurs, that needs to be considered when ascertaining how the AMOC will respond to a warming climate.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  2. Abstract Changes in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, which have the potential to drive societally-important climate impacts, have traditionally been linked to the strength of deep water formation in the subpolar North Atlantic. Yet there is neither clear observational evidence nor agreement among models about how changes in deep water formation influence overturning. Here, we use data from a trans-basin mooring array (OSNAP—Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program) to show that winter convection during 2014–2018 in the interior basin had minimal impact on density changes in the deep western boundary currents in the subpolar basins. Contrary to previous modeling studies, wemore »find no discernable relationship between western boundary changes and subpolar overturning variability over the observational time scales. Our results require a reconsideration of the notion of deep western boundary changes representing overturning characteristics, with implications for constraining the source of overturning variability within and downstream of the subpolar region.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  3. To provide an observational basis for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections of a slowing Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (MOC) in the 21st century, the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program (OSNAP) observing system was launched in the summer of 2014. The first 21-month record reveals a highly variable overturning circulation responsible for the majority of the heat and freshwater transport across the OSNAP line. In a departure from the prevailing view that changes in deep water formation in the Labrador Sea dominate MOC variability, these results suggest that the conversion of warm, salty, shallow Atlantic waters intomore »colder, fresher, deep waters that move southward in the Irminger and Iceland basins is largely responsible for overturning and its variability in the subpolar basin.« less
  4. Abstract The Iceland Greenland Seas Project (IGP) is a coordinated atmosphere–ocean research program investigating climate processes in the source region of the densest waters of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. During February and March 2018, a field campaign was executed over the Iceland and southern Greenland Seas that utilized a range of observing platforms to investigate critical processes in the region, including a research vessel, a research aircraft, moorings, sea gliders, floats, and a meteorological buoy. A remarkable feature of the field campaign was the highly coordinated deployment of the observing platforms, whereby the research vessel and aircraft tracks weremore »planned in concert to allow simultaneous sampling of the atmosphere, the ocean, and their interactions. This joint planning was supported by tailor-made convection-permitting weather forecasts and novel diagnostics from an ensemble prediction system. The scientific aims of the IGP are to characterize the atmospheric forcing and the ocean response of coupled processes; in particular, cold-air outbreaks in the vicinity of the marginal ice zone and their triggering of oceanic heat loss, and the role of freshwater in the generation of dense water masses. The campaign observed the life cycle of a long-lasting cold-air outbreak over the Iceland Sea and the development of a cold-air outbreak over the Greenland Sea. Repeated profiling revealed the immediate impact on the ocean, while a comprehensive hydrographic survey provided a rare picture of these subpolar seas in winter. A joint atmosphere–ocean approach is also being used in the analysis phase, with coupled observational analysis and coordinated numerical modeling activities underway.« less