The North Atlantic inflow to the Arctic Ocean: High-resolution model study

Bacon, Sheldon; Aksenov, Yevgeny; Coward, Andrew C.; Nurser, A.J. George. 2010 The North Atlantic inflow to the Arctic Ocean: High-resolution model study. Journal of Marine Systems, 79 (1-2). 1-22. 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2009.05.003

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North Atlantic Water (NAW) plays a central role in the ocean climate of the Nordic Seas and Arctic Ocean. Whereas the pathways of the NAW in the Nordic Seas are mostly known, those into the Arctic Ocean are yet to be fully understood. To elucidate these routes the results of a high-resolution global coupled ice–ocean model are used. We demonstrate that in 1989–2004 the NAW inflow was equally divided between the Fram Strait and Barents Sea. We find that salt influx within the branches is comparable but that most of the heat entered the Arctic Ocean through Fram Strait. The model shows complex NAW circulation patterns in the Barents Sea. Two mode waters in the Barents Sea branch are identified: a halocline water produced by surface cooling at shallow convective sites in the northern Barents Sea, and bottom water formed from NAW in the southeastern Barents Sea via full-depth convection and mixing. These two modes continue into the Nansen Basin along two separate routes: one through the northern Barents Sea shelf, and the other through the southeastern Barents Sea with halocline mode water dominating the outflow. Overall, less than half of the NAW coming into the Nordic Seas reaches the Arctic Ocean relatively unmodified, and the rest of it will have been modified in the Barents and Kara Seas with a large fraction re-circulating into the North Atlantic.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2009.05.003
Programmes: Oceans 2025
ISSN: 09247963
Date made live: 23 Jan 2012 13:53

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