Vage Kjetil

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  • Article
    Liquid freshwater transport estimates from the East Greenland Current based on continuous measurements north of Denmark Strait
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2017-01-10) de Steur, Laura ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Macrander, Andreas ; Våge, Kjetil ; Harden, Benjamin E. ; Jónsson, Steingrímur ; Østerhus, Svein ; Valdimarsson, Héðinn
    Liquid freshwater transports of the shelfbreak East Greenland Current (EGC) and the separated EGC are determined from mooring records from the Kögur section north of Denmark Strait between August 2011 and July 2012. The 11 month mean freshwater transport (FWT), relative to a salinity of 34.8, was 65 ± 11 mSv to the south. Approximately 70% of this was associated with the shelfbreak EGC and the remaining 30% with the separated EGC. Very large southward FWT ranging from 160 mSv to 120 mSv was observed from September to mid-October 2011 and was foremost due to anomalously low upper-layer salinities. The FWT may, however, be underestimated by approximately 5 mSv due to sampling biases in the upper ocean. The FWT on the Greenland shelf was estimated using additional inshore moorings deployed from 2012 to 2014. While the annual mean ranged from nearly zero during the first year to 18 mSv to the south during the second year, synoptically the FWT on the shelf can be significant. Furthermore, an anomalous event in autumn 2011 caused the shelfbreak EGC to reverse, leading to a large reduction in FWT. This reversed circulation was due to the passage of a large, 100 km wide anticyclone originating upstream from the shelfbreak. The late summer FWT of −131 mSv is 150% larger than earlier estimates based on sections in the late-1990s and early-2000s. This increase is likely the result of enhanced freshwater flux from the Arctic Ocean to the Nordic Seas during the early 2010s.
  • Article
    Evolution and transformation of the North Icelandic Irminger Current along the North Iceland Shelf
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-02-20) Semper, Stefanie ; Våge, Kjetil ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Jónsson, Steingrímur ; Valdimarsson, Héðinn
    The North Icelandic Irminger Current (NIIC) flowing northward through Denmark Strait is the main source of salt and heat to the north Iceland shelf. We quantify its along-stream evolution using the first high-resolution hydrographic/velocity survey north of Iceland that spans the entire shelf along with historical hydrographic measurements as well as data from satellites and surface drifters. The NIIC generally follows the shelf break. Portions of the flow recirculate near Denmark Strait and the Kolbeinsey Ridge. The current's volume transport diminishes northeast of Iceland before it merges with the Atlantic Water inflow east of Iceland. The hydrographic properties of the current are modified along its entire pathway, predominantly because of lateral mixing with cold, fresh offshore waters rather than air-sea interaction. Progressing eastward, the NIIC cools and freshens by approximately 0.3°C and 0.02–0.03 g kg−1 per 100 km, respectively, in both summer and winter. Dense-water formation on the shelf is limited, occurring only sporadically in the historical record. The hydrographic properties of this locally formed water match the lighter portion of the North Icelandic Jet (NIJ), which emerges northeast of Iceland and transports dense water toward Denmark Strait. In the region northeast of Iceland, the NIIC is prone to baroclinic instability. Enhanced eddy kinetic energy over the steep slope there suggests a dynamical link between eddies shed by the NIIC and the formation of the NIJ as previously hypothesized. Thus, while the NIIC rarely supplies the NIJ directly, it may be dynamically important for the overturning circulation in the Nordic Seas.
  • Preprint
    Surprising return of deep convection to the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean in winter 2007–2008
    ( 2008-11-07) Våge, Kjetil ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Thierry, Virginie ; Reverdin, Gilles ; Lee, Craig M. ; Petrie, Brian ; Agnew, Tom A. ; Wong, Amy ; Ribergaard, Mads H.
    The process of open-ocean convection in the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean forms a dense water mass that impacts the meridional overturning circulation and heat flux, and sequesters atmospheric carbon. In recent years the convection has been shallow or nonexistent, which could be construed as a consequence of a warmer climate. However, in the winter of 2007-08 deep convection returned to the subpolar gyre in both the Labrador and Irminger Seas. Here we document this return and elucidate the reasons why it happened. Profiling float data from the Argo programme are used to document the deep mixing, and a variety of in-situ, satellite, and reanalysis products are analyzed to describe the conditions leading to the overturning. The transition to a convective state took place abruptly, without going through a preconditioning phase, which is contrary to general expectations. Changes in the hemispheric air temperature, tracks of storms, flux of freshwater to the Labrador Sea, and distribution of pack ice all conspired to enhance the air-sea heat flux, resulting in the deep overturning. This study illuminates the complexity of the North Atlantic convective system.
  • Article
    Water mass transformation in the Iceland Sea: contrasting two winters separated by four decades
    (Elsevier, 2022-06-22) Våge, Kjetil ; Semper, Stefanie ; Valdimarsson, Héðinn ; Jónsson, Steingrímur ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Moore, G. W. K.
    Dense water masses formed in the Nordic Seas flow across the Greenland–Scotland Ridge and contribute substantially to the lower limb of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. Originally considered an important source of dense water, the Iceland Sea gained renewed interest when the North Icelandic Jet — a current transporting dense water from the Iceland Sea into Denmark Strait — was discovered in the early 2000s. Here we use recent hydrographic data to quantify water mass transformation in the Iceland Sea and contrast the present conditions with measurements from hydrographic surveys conducted four decades earlier. We demonstrate that the large-scale hydrographic structure of the central Iceland Sea has changed significantly over this period and that the locally transformed water has become less dense, in concert with a retreating sea-ice edge and diminished ocean-to-atmosphere heat fluxes. This has reduced the available supply of dense water to the North Icelandic Jet, but also permitted densification of the East Greenland Current during its transit through the presently ice-free western Iceland Sea in winter. Together, these changes have significantly altered the contribution from the Iceland Sea to the overturning in the Nordic Seas over the four decade period.
  • Article
    The North Icelandic Jet and its relationship to the North Icelandic Irminger Current
    (Sears Foundation for Marine Research, 2017-09-01) Pickart, Robert S. ; Spall, Michael A. ; Torres, Daniel J. ; Våge, Kjetil ; Valdimarsson, Héðinn ; Nobre, Carolina ; Moore, G. W. K. ; Jonsson, Steingrimur ; Mastropole, Dana M.
    Shipboard hydrographic and velocity sections are used to quantify aspects of the North Icelandic Jet (NIJ), which transports dense overflow water to Denmark Strait, and the North Icelandic Irminger Current (NIIC), which imports Atlantic water to the Iceland Sea. The mean transports of the two currents are comparable, in line with previous notions that there is a local overturning cell in the Iceland Sea that transforms the Atlantic water to dense overflow water. As the NIJ and NIIC flow along the north side of Iceland, they appear to share a common front when the bottom topography steers them close together, but even when they are separate there is a poleward flow inshore of the NIJ. The interannual variability in salinity of the inflowing NIIC is in phase with that of the outflowing NIJ. It is suggested, however, that the NIIC signal does not dictate that of the NIJ. Instead, the combination of liquid and solid freshwater flux from the east Greenland boundary can account for the observed net freshening of the NIIC to the NIJ for the densest half of the overturning circulation in the northwest Iceland Sea. This implies that the remaining overturning must occur in a different geographic area, consistent with earlier model results. The year-to-year variability in salinity of the NIJ can be explained by applying annual anomalies of evaporation minus precipitation over the Iceland Sea to a one-dimensional mixing model. These anomalies vary in phase with the wind stress curl over the North Atlantic subpolar gyre, which previous studies have shown drives the interannual variation in salinity of the inflowing NIIC.
  • Article
    The Atlantic Water boundary current in the Nansen Basin : transport and mechanisms of lateral exchange
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2016-09-22) Våge, Kjetil ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Pavlov, Vladimir ; Lin, Peigen ; Torres, Daniel J. ; Ingvaldsen, Randi B. ; Sundfjord, Arild ; Proshutinsky, Andrey
    Data from a shipboard hydrographic survey near 30°E in the Nansen Basin of the Arctic Ocean are used to investigate the structure and transport of the Atlantic Water boundary current. Two high-resolution synoptic crossings of the current indicate that it is roughly 30 km wide and weakly middepth-intensified. Using a previously determined definition of Atlantic Water, the transport of this water mass is calculated to be 1.6 ± 0.3 Sv, which is similar to the transport of Atlantic Water in the inner branch of the West Spitsbergen Current. At the time of the survey a small anticyclonic eddy of Atlantic Water was situated just offshore of the boundary current. The data suggest that the feature was recently detached from the boundary current, and, due to compensating effects of temperature and salinity on the thermal wind shear, the maximum swirl speed was situated below the hydrographic property core. Two other similar features were detected within our study domain, suggesting that these eddies are common and represent an effective means of fluxing warm and salty water from the boundary current into the interior. An atmospheric low-pressure system transiting south of our study area resulted in southeasterly winds prior to and during the field measurements. A comparison to hydrographic data from the Pacific Water boundary current in the Canada Basin under similar atmospheric forcing suggests that upwelling was taking place during the survey. This provides a second mechanism related to cross-stream exchange of heat and salt in this region of the Nansen Basin.
  • Article
    The emergence of the North Icelandic Jet and its evolution from northeast Iceland to Denmark Strait
    (American Meteorological Society, 2019-09-19) Semper, Stefanie ; Våge, Kjetil ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Valdimarsson, Héðinn ; Torres, Daniel J. ; Jónsson, Steingrímur
    The North Icelandic Jet (NIJ) is an important source of dense water to the overflow plume passing through Denmark Strait. The properties, structure, and transport of the NIJ are investigated for the first time along its entire pathway following the continental slope north of Iceland, using 13 hydrographic/velocity surveys of high spatial resolution conducted between 2004 and 2018. The comprehensive dataset reveals that the current originates northeast of Iceland and increases in volume transport by roughly 0.4 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) per 100 km until 300 km upstream of Denmark Strait, at which point the highest transport is reached. The bulk of the NIJ transport is confined to a small area in Θ–S space centered near −0.29° ± 0.16°C in Conservative Temperature and 35.075 ± 0.006 g kg−1 in Absolute Salinity. While the hydrographic properties of this transport mode are not significantly modified along the NIJ’s pathway, the transport estimates vary considerably between and within the surveys. Neither a clear seasonal signal nor a consistent link to atmospheric forcing was found, but barotropic and/or baroclinic instability is likely active in the current. The NIJ displays a double-core structure in roughly 50% of the occupations, with the two cores centered at the 600- and 800-m isobaths, respectively. The transport of overflow water 300 km upstream of Denmark Strait exceeds 1.8 ± 0.3 Sv, which is substantially larger than estimates from a year-long mooring array and hydrographic/velocity surveys closer to the strait, where the NIJ merges with the separated East Greenland Current. This implies a more substantial contribution of the NIJ to the Denmark Strait overflow plume than previously envisaged.
  • Preprint
    Revised circulation scheme North of the Denmark Strait
    ( 2013-04-26) Våge, Kjetil ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Spall, Michael A. ; Moore, G. W. K. ; Valdimarsson, Héðinn ; Torres, Daniel J. ; Erofeeva, Svetlana Y. ; Nilsen, Jan Even Ø.
    The circulation and water mass transports north of the Denmark Strait are investigated using recently collected and historical in-situ data along with an idealized numerical model and atmospheric reanalysis fields. Emphasis is placed on the pathways of dense water feeding theDenmark StraitOverflowWater plume as well as the upper-layer circulation of freshwater. It is found that the East Greenland Current (EGC) bifurcates at the northern end of the Blosseville Basin, some 450 km upstream of the Denmark Strait, advecting overflow water and surface freshwater away from the boundary. This “separated EGC” flows southward adjacent to the previously identified North Icelandic Jet, indicating that approximately 70% of the Denmark Strait Overflow Water approaches the sill along the Iceland continental slope. Roughly a quarter of the freshwater transport of the EGC is diverted offshore via the bifurcation. Two hypotheses are examined to explain the existence of the separated EGC. The atmospheric fields demonstrate that flow distortion due to the orography of Greenland imparts significant vorticity into the ocean in this region. The negative wind stress curl, together with the closed bathymetric contours of the Blosseville Basin, is conducive for spinning up an anti-cyclonic gyre whose offshore branch could represent the separated EGC. An idealized numerical simulation suggests instead that the current is primarily eddy-forced. In particular, baroclinic instability of the model EGC spawns large anticyclones that migrate offshore and coalesce upon reaching the Iceland continental slope, resulting in the separated EGC. Regardless of the formation mechanism, the recently obtained shipboard data and historical hydrography both indicate that the separated EGC is a permanent feature of the circulation north of the Denmark Strait.
  • Preprint
    Upstream sources of the Denmark Strait Overflow : observations from a high-resolution mooring array
    ( 2016-02-19) Harden, Benjamin E. ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Valdimarsson, Héðinn ; Våge, Kjetil ; de Steur, Laura ; Richards, Clark G. ; Bahr, Frank B. ; Torres, Daniel J. ; Børve, Eli ; Jonsson, Steingrimur ; Macrander, Andreas ; Østerhus, Svein ; Håvik, Lisbeth ; Hattermann, Tore
    We present the first results from a densely instrumented mooring array upstream of the Denmark Strait sill, extending from the Iceland shelfbreak to the Greenland shelf. The array was deployed from September 2011 to July 2012, and captured the vast majority of overflow water denser than 27.8 kgm-3 approaching the sill. The mean transport of overflow water over the length of the deployment was 3.54 ± 0.16 Sv. Of this, 0.58 Sv originated from below sill depth, revealing that aspiration takes place in Denmark Strait. We confirm the presence of two main sources of overflow water: one approaching the sill in the East Greenland Current and the other via the North Icelandic Jet. Using an objective technique based on the hydrographic properties of the water, the transports of these two sources are found to be 2.54 ± 0.17 Sv and 1.00 ± 0.17 Sv, respectively. We further partition the East Greenland Current source into that carried by the shelfbreak jet (1.50 ± 0.16 Sv) versus that transported by a separated branch of the current on the Iceland slope (1.04 ± 0.15 Sv). Over the course of the year the total overflow transport is more consistent than the transport in either branch; compensation takes place among the pathways that maintains a stable total overflow transport. This is especially true for the two East Greenland Current branches whose transports vary out of phase with each other on weekly and longer time scales. We argue that wind forcing plays a role in this partitioning.
  • Thesis
    Circulation and convection in the Irminger Sea
    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2010-02) Våge, Kjetil
    Aspects of the circulation and convection in the Irminger Sea are investigated using a variety of in-situ, satellite, and atmospheric reanalysis products. Westerly Greenland tip jet events are intense, small-scale wind phenomena located east of Cape Farewell, and are important to circulation and convection in the Irminger Sea. A climatology of such events was used to investigate their evolution and mechanism of generation. The air parcels constituting the tip jet are shown to have a continental origin, and to exhibit a characteristic deflection and acceleration around southern Greenland. The events are almost invariably accompanied both by a notable coherence of the lower-level tip jet with an overlying upper-level jet stream, and by a surface cyclone located in the lee (east) of Greenland. It is argued that the tip jet arises from the interplay of the synopticscale flow evolution and the perturbing effects of Greenland’s topography upon the flow. The IrmingerGyre is a narrow, cyclonic recirculation confined to the southwest Irminger Sea. While the gyre’s existence has been previously documented, relatively little is known about its specific features or variability. The mean strength of the gyre’s circulation between 1991 and 2007 was 6.8 ± 1.8 Sv. It intensified at a rate of 4.3 Sv per decade over the observed period despite declining atmospheric forcing. Examination of the temporal evolution of the LSW layer thickness across the Irminger Basin suggests that local convection formed LSW during the early 1990s within the Irminger Gyre. In contrast, LSW appeared outside of the gyre in the eastern part of the Irminger Sea with a time lag of 2-3 years, consistent with transit from a remote source in the Labrador Sea. In the winter of 2007-08 deep convection returned to both the Labrador and Irminger seas following years of shallow overturning. The transition to a convective state took place abruptly, without going through a preconditioning phase, which is contrary to general expectations. Changes in the hemispheric air temperature, tracks of storms, flux of freshwater to the Labrador Sea, and distribution of pack ice all conspired to enhance the air-sea heat flux, resulting in the deep overturning.
  • Article
    Characteristics and transformation of Pacific winter water on the Chukchi Sea shelf in late spring
    (American Geophysical Union, 2019-10-14) Pacini, Astrid ; Moore, G. W. K. ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Nobre, Carolina ; Bahr, Frank B. ; Vage, Kjetil ; Arrigo, Kevin R.
    Data from a late spring survey of the northeast Chukchi Sea are used to investigate various aspects of newly ventilated winter water (NVWW). More than 96% of the water sampled on the shelf was NVWW, the saltiest (densest) of which tended to be in the main flow pathways on the shelf. Nearly all of the hydrographic profiles on the shelf displayed a two‐layer structure, with a surface mixed layer and bottom boundary layer separated by a weak density interface (on the order of 0.02 kg/m3). Using a polynya model to drive a one‐dimensional mixing model, it was demonstrated that, on average, the profiles would become completely homogenized within 14–25 hr when subjected to the March and April heat fluxes. A subset of the profiles would become homogenized when subjected to the May heat fluxes. Since the study domain contained numerous leads within the pack ice—many of them refreezing—and since some of the measured profiles were vertically uniform in density, this suggests that NVWW is formed throughout the Chukchi shelf via convection within small openings in the ice. This is consistent with the result that the salinity signals of the NVWW along the central shelf pathway cannot be explained solely by advection from Bering Strait or via modification within large polynyas. The local convection would be expected to stir nutrients into the water column from the sediments, which explains the high nitrate concentrations observed throughout the shelf. This provides a favorable initial condition for phytoplankton growth on the Chukchi shelf.
  • Preprint
    Open-ocean convection becoming less intense in the Greenland and Iceland Seas
    ( 2015-05-18) Moore, G. W. K. ; Våge, Kjetil ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Renfrew, Ian A.
    The air-sea transfer of heat and freshwater plays a critical role in the global climate system. This is particularly true for the Greenland and Iceland Seas, where these fluxes drive ocean convection that contributes to Denmark Strait Overflow Water, the densest component of the lower limb of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). Here we show that the wintertime retreat of sea ice in the region, combined with different rates of warming for the atmosphere and sea surface of the Greenland and Iceland Seas, has resulted in statistically significant reductions of approximately 20% in the magnitude of the winter air-sea heat fluxes since 1979. We also show that modes of climate variability other than the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) are required to fully characterize the regional air-sea interaction. Mixed-layer model simulations imply that further decreases in atmospheric forcing will exceed a threshold for the Greenland Sea whereby convection will become depth limited, reducing the ventilation of mid-depth waters in the Nordic Seas. In the Iceland Sea, further reductions have the potential to decrease the supply of the densest overflow waters to the AMOC.
  • Article
    Winter mixed layer development in the central Irminger Sea : the effect of strong, intermittent wind events
    (American Meteorological Society, 2008-03) Våge, Kjetil ; Pickart, Robert S.
    The impact of the Greenland tip jet on the wintertime mixed layer of the southwest Irminger Sea is investigated using in situ moored profiler data and a variety of atmospheric datasets. The mixed layer was observed to reach 400 m in the spring of 2003 and 300 m in the spring of 2004. Both of these winters were mild and characterized by a low North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index. A typical tip jet event is associated with a low pressure system that is advected by upper-level steering currents into the region east of Cape Farewell and interacts with the high topography of southern Greenland. Heat flux time series for the mooring site were constructed that include the enhancing influence of the tip jet events. This was used to force a one-dimensional mixed layer model, which was able to reproduce the observed envelope of mixed layer deepening in both winters. The deeper mixed layer of the first winter was largely due to a higher number of robust tip jet events, which in turn was caused by the steering currents focusing more storms adjacent to southern Greenland. Application of the mixed layer model to the winter of 1994–95, a period characterized by a high-NAO index, resulted in convection exceeding 1700 m. This prediction is consistent with hydrographic data collected in summer 1995, supporting the notion that deep convection can occur in the Irminger Sea during strong winters.
  • Article
    On the hydrography of Denmark Strait
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2017-01-10) Mastropole, Dana M. ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Valdimarsson, Héðinn ; Våge, Kjetil ; Jochumsen, Kerstin ; Girton, James B.
    Using 111 shipboard hydrographic sections across Denmark Strait occupied between 1990 and 2012, we characterize the mean conditions at the sill, quantify the water mass constituents, and describe the dominant features of the Denmark Strait Overflow Water (DSOW). The mean vertical sections of temperature, salinity, and density reveal the presence of circulation components found upstream of the sill, in particular the shelfbreak East Greenland Current (EGC) and the separated EGC. These correspond to hydrographic fronts consistent with surface-intensified southward flow. Deeper in the water column the isopycnals slope oppositely, indicative of bottom-intensified flow of DSOW. An end-member analysis indicates that the deepest part of Denmark Strait is dominated by Arctic-Origin Water with only small amounts of Atlantic-Origin Water. On the western side of the strait, the overflow water is a mixture of both constituents, with a contribution from Polar Surface Water. Weakly stratified “boluses” of dense water are present in 41% of the occupations, revealing that this is a common configuration of DSOW. The bolus water is primarily Arctic-Origin Water and constitutes the densest portion of the overflow. The boluses have become warmer and saltier over the 22 year record, which can be explained by changes in end-member properties and their relative contributions to bolus composition.
  • Article
    Composition and variability of the Denmark Strait Overflow Water in a high-resolution numerical model hindcast simulation
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2017-04-04) Behrens, Erik ; Våge, Kjetil ; Harden, Benjamin E. ; Biastoch, Arne ; Böning, Claus W.
    The upstream sources and pathways of the Denmark Strait Overflow Water and their variability have been investigated using a high-resolution model hindcast. This global simulation covers the period from 1948 to 2009 and uses a fine model mesh (1/20°) to resolve mesoscale features and the complex current structure north of Iceland explicitly. The three sources of the Denmark Strait Overflow, the shelfbreak East Greenland Current (EGC), the separated EGC, and the North Icelandic Jet, have been analyzed using Eulerian and Lagrangian diagnostics. The shelfbreak EGC contributes the largest fraction in terms of volume and freshwater transport to the Denmark Strait Overflow and is the main driver of the overflow variability. The North Icelandic Jet contributes the densest water to the Denmark Strait Overflow and shows only small temporal transport variations. During summer, the net volume and freshwater transports to the south are reduced. On interannual time scales, these transports are highly correlated with the large-scale wind stress curl around Iceland and, to some extent, influenced by the North Atlantic Oscillation, with enhanced southward transports during positive phases. The Lagrangian trajectories support the existence of a hypothesized overturning loop along the shelfbreak north of Iceland, where water carried by the North Icelandic Irminger Current is transformed and feeds the North Icelandic Jet. Monitoring these two currents and the region north of the Iceland shelfbreak could provide the potential to track long-term changes in the Denmark Strait Overflow and thus also the AMOC.
  • Article
    The Iceland-Faroe slope jet: a conduit for dense water toward the Faroe Bank Channel overflow
    (Nature Research, 2020-10-23) Semper, Stefanie ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Våge, Kjetil ; Larsen, Karin Margretha H. ; Hátún, Hjálmar ; Hansen, Bogi
    Dense water from the Nordic Seas passes through the Faroe Bank Channel and supplies the lower limb of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, a critical component of the climate system. Yet, the upstream pathways of this water are not fully known. Here we present evidence of a previously unrecognised deep current following the slope from Iceland toward the Faroe Bank Channel using high-resolution, synoptic shipboard observations and long-term measurements north of the Faroe Islands. The bulk of the volume transport of the current, named the Iceland-Faroe Slope Jet (IFSJ), is relatively uniform in hydrographic properties, very similar to the North Icelandic Jet flowing westward along the slope north of Iceland toward Denmark Strait. This suggests a common source for the two major overflows across the Greenland-Scotland Ridge. The IFSJ can account for approximately half of the total overflow transport through the Faroe Bank Channel, thus constituting a significant component of the overturning circulation in the Nordic Seas.
  • Article
    Fate of warm Pacific water in the Arctic Basin
    (American Geophysical Union, 2021-10-01) Lin, Peigen ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Våge, Kjetil ; Li, Jianqiang
    Pacific Summer Water (PSW) plays a critical role in the ecosystem of the western Arctic Ocean, impacting sea-ice melt and providing freshwater to the basin. Most of the water exits the Chukchi Sea shelf through Barrow Canyon, but the manner in which this occurs and the ultimate fate of the water remain uncertain. Using an extensive collection of historical hydrographic and velocity data, we demonstrate how the PSW outflow depends on different wind conditions, dictating whether the warm water progresses eastward or westward away from the canyon. The current carrying the water westward along the continental slope splits into different branches, influenced by the strength and extent of the Beaufort Gyre, while the eastward penetration of PSW along the shelfbreak is limited. Our results provide the first broad-scale view of how PSW is transferred from the shelf to the basin, highlighting the role of winds, boundary currents, and eddy exchange.
  • Article
    The Atlantic Water boundary current north of Svalbard in late summer
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2017-03-21) Perez-Hernandez, M. Dolores ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Pavlov, Vladimir ; Våge, Kjetil ; Ingvaldsen, Randi B. ; Sundfjord, Arild ; Renner, Angelika H. H. ; Torres, Daniel J. ; Erofeeva, Svetlana Y.
    Data from a shipboard hydrographic/velocity survey carried out in September 2013 of the region north of Svalbard in the Nansen Basin are analyzed to characterize the Atlantic Water (AW) boundary current as it flows eastward along the continental slope. Eight meridional transects across the current, spanning an alongstream distance of 180 km, allow for a detailed description of the current and the regional water masses. During the survey the winds were light and there was no pack-ice. The mean section reveals that the boundary current was O(40 km) wide, surface-intensified, with a maximum velocity of 20 cm/s. Its mean transport during the survey was 3.11 ± 0.33 Sv, of which 2.31 ± 0.29 Sv was AW. This suggests that the two branches of AW entering the Arctic Ocean via Fram Strait—the Yermak Plateau branch and the Svalbard branch—have largely combined into a single current by 30°E. At this location the boundary current meanders with a systematic change in its kinematic structure during offshore excursions. A potential vorticity analysis indicates that the flow is baroclinically unstable, consistent with previous observations of AW anticyclones offshore of the current as well as the presence of a near-field cyclone in this data set. Our survey indicates that only a small portion of the boundary current is diverted into the Kvitøya Trough (0.17 ± 0.08 Sv) and that the AW temperature/salinity signal is quickly eroded within the trough.
  • Article
    Ocean convection linked to the recent ice edge retreat along east Greenland
    (Nature Publishing Group, 2018-03-29) Våge, Kjetil ; Papritz, Lukas ; Håvik, Lisbeth ; Spall, Michael A. ; Moore, G. W. K.
    Warm subtropical-origin Atlantic water flows northward across the Greenland-Scotland Ridge into the Nordic Seas, where it relinquishes heat to the atmosphere and gradually transforms into dense Atlantic-origin water. Returning southward along east Greenland, this water mass is situated beneath a layer of cold, fresh surface water and sea ice. Here we show, using measurements from autonomous ocean gliders, that the Atlantic-origin water was re-ventilated while transiting the western Iceland Sea during winter. This re-ventilation is a recent phenomenon made possible by the retreat of the ice edge toward Greenland. The fresh surface layer that characterises this region in summer is diverted onto the Greenland shelf by enhanced onshore Ekman transport induced by stronger northerly winds in fall and winter. Severe heat loss from the ocean offshore of the ice edge subsequently triggers convection, which further transforms the Atlantic-origin water. This re-ventilation is a counterintuitive occurrence in a warming climate, and highlights the difficulties inherent in predicting the behaviour of the complex coupled climate system.
  • Article
    Structure and variability of the shelfbreak East Greenland Current north of Denmark Strait
    (American Meteorological Society, 2017-10-31) Håvik, Lisbeth ; Våge, Kjetil ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Harden, Benjamin E. ; von Appen, Wilken-Jon ; Jónsson, Steingrímur ; Østerhus, Svein
    Data from a mooring array deployed north of Denmark Strait from September 2011 to August 2012 are used to investigate the structure and variability of the shelfbreak East Greenland Current (EGC). The shelfbreak EGC is a surface-intensified current situated just offshore of the east Greenland shelf break flowing southward through Denmark Strait. This study identified two dominant spatial modes of variability within the current: a pulsing mode and a meandering mode, both of which were most pronounced in fall and winter. A particularly energetic event in November 2011 was related to a reversal of the current for nearly a month. In addition to the seasonal signal, the current was associated with periods of enhanced eddy kinetic energy and increased variability on shorter time scales. The data indicate that the current is, for the most part, barotropically stable but subject to baroclinic instability from September to March. By contrast, in summer the current is mainly confined to the shelf break with decreased eddy kinetic energy and minimal baroclinic conversion. No other region of the Nordic Seas displays higher levels of eddy kinetic energy than the shelfbreak EGC north of Denmark Strait during fall. This appears to be due to the large velocity variability on mesoscale time scales generated by the instabilities. The mesoscale variability documented here may be a source of the variability observed at the Denmark Strait sill.