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  1. Abstract

    Overflow water from the Nordic Seas comprises the deepest limb of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, yet questions remain as to where it is ventilated and how it reaches the Greenland-Scotland Ridge. Here we use historical hydrographic data from 2005-2015, together with satellite altimeter data, to elucidate the source regions of the Denmark Strait and Faroe Bank Channel overflows and the pathways feeding these respective sills. A recently-developed metric is used to calculate how similar two water parcels are, based on potential density and potential spicity. This reveals that the interior of the Greenland Sea gyre is the primary wintertime source of the densest portion of both overflows. After subducting, the water progresses southward along several ridge systems towards the Greenland-Scotland Ridge. Kinematic evidence supports the inferred pathways. Extending the calculation back to the 1980s reveals that the ventilation occurred previously along the periphery of the Greenland Sea gyre.

  2. Abstract

    Iceland-Scotland Overflow Water (ISOW) is a primary deep water mass exported from the Norwegian Sea into the North Atlantic as part of the global Meridional Overturning Circulation. ISOW has historically been depicted as flowing counter-clockwise in a deep boundary current around the subpolar North Atlantic, but this single-boundary-following pathway is being challenged by new Lagrangian observations and model simulations. We show here that ISOW leaves the boundary and spreads into the interior towards the central Labrador and Irminger basins after flowing through the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone. We also describe a newly observed southward pathway of ISOW along the western flank of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The partitioning of these pathways is shown to be influenced by deep-reaching eddies and meanders of the North Atlantic Current. Our results, in tandem with previous studies, call for a revision in the historical depiction of ISOW pathways throughout the North Atlantic.

  3. 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 mass 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.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
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  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  7. 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, we 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.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  8. 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 illustratedmore »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.« less
  9. null (Ed.)
    Abstract The boundary current system in the Labrador Sea plays an integral role in modulating convection in the interior basin. Four years of mooring data from the eastern Labrador Sea reveal persistent mesoscale variability in the West Greenland boundary current. Between 2014 and 2018, 197 mid-depth intensified cyclones were identified that passed the array near the 2000 m isobath. In this study, we quantify these features and show that they are the downstream manifestation of Denmark Strait Overflow Water (DSOW) cyclones. A composite cyclone is constructed revealing an average radius of 9 km, maximum azimuthal speed of 24 cm/s, and a core propagation velocity of 27 cm/s. The core propagation velocity is significantly smaller than upstream near Denmark Strait, allowing them to trap more water. The cyclones transport a 200-m thick lens of dense water at the bottom of the water column, and increase the transport of DSOW in the West Greenland boundary current by 17% relative to the background flow. Only a portion of the features generated at Denmark Strait make it to the Labrador Sea, implying that the remainder are shed into the interior Irminger Sea, are retroflected at Cape Farewell, or dissipate. A synoptic shipboard survey eastmore »of Cape Farewell, conducted in summer 2020, captured two of these features which shed further light on their structure and timing. This is the first time DSOW cyclones have been observed in the Labrador Sea—a discovery that could have important implications for interior stratification.« less