Heat and freshwater transport through the central Labrador Sea
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The seasonal and interannual variations in the export of Labrador Sea Water (LSW), and in the heat and freshwater transport through the central Labrador Sea, are examined for two different periods: from 1964 to 1974, using Ocean Weather Station Bravo data, and from 1996 to 2000, using data collected from profiling floats. A typical seasonal cycle involves a 300-m thickening of LSW (convection) followed by an equivalent thinning (restratification). Restratification is characterized by a drift of properties toward boundary current values that is indicative of a vigorous lateral exchange. The net result is a convergence of heat and salt, between 200 and 700 m, that balances the net surface heat loss to the atmosphere and partially offsets the surface freshwater accumulation due to surface, lateral exchange. Interannual variations in the export of LSW can be explained by taking into account changes in the central Labrador Sea–boundary current density gradient, which governs the lateral exchange. Interannual variations in how much heat is converged into the region, on the other hand, mostly reflect changes in the temperature of LSW. This only partly explains, however, the increased convergence of heat that occurs during the late 1990s. In years in which convection does not occur, restratification trends continue throughout the entire year, albeit at a reduced rate.
Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2006. This article is posted here by permission of American Meteorological Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Physical Oceanography 36 (2006): 606-628, doi:10.1175/JPO2875.1.