Formation and export of deep water in the Labrador and Irminger Seas in a GCM
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The influence of changes in the rate of deep water formation in the North Atlantic subpolar gyre on the variability of the transport in the Deep Western Boundary Current is investigated in a realistic hind cast simulation of the North Atlantic during the 1953–2003 period. In the simulation, deep water formation takes place in the Irminger Sea, in the interior of the Labrador Sea and in the Labrador Current. In the Irminger Sea, deep water is formed close to the boundary currents. It is rapidly exported out of the Irminger Sea via an intensified East Greenland Current, and out of the Labrador Sea via increased southeastward transports. The newly formed deep water, which is advected to Flemish Cap in approximately one year, is preceded by fast propagating topographic waves. Deep water formed in the Labrador Sea interior tends to accumulate and recirculate within the basin, with a residence time of a few years in the Labrador Sea. Hence, it is only slowly exported northeastward to the Irminger Sea and southeastward to the subtropical North Atlantic, reaching Flemish Cap in 1–5 years. As a result, the transport in the Deep Western Boundary Current is mostly correlated with convection in the Irminger Sea. Finally, the deep water produced in the Labrador Current is lighter and is rapidly exported out of the Labrador Basin, reaching Flemish Cap in a few months. As the production of deep-water along the western periphery of the Labrador Sea is maximum when convection in the interior is minimum, there is some compensation between the deep water formed along the boundary and in the interior of the basin, which reduces the variability of its net transport. These mechanisms which have been suggested from hydrographic and tracer observations, help one to understand the variability of the transport in the Deep Western Boundary Current at the exit of the subpolar gyre.
Author Posting. © Elsevier B.V., 2006. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Elsevier B.V. for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers 54 (2007): 510-532, doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2006.12.014.