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Saline outflow from the Arctic Ocean: Its contribution to the deep waters of the Greenland, Norwegian, and Iceland seas

K. Aagaard

Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, NOAA, Seattle, WA

E. Fahrbach

Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, FRG

J. Meincke

Institute for Marine Research, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, FRG

J.H. Swift

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA

Journal of Geophysical Research, 96(C11), 20,433-20,441(1991)
Copyright 1991 by the American Geophysical Union. Further electronic distribution is not allowed.

Since 1985 various investigators have proposed that Norwegian Sea deep water (NSDW) is formed by mixing of warm and saline deep water from the Arctic Ocean with the much colder and fresher deep water formed by convection in the Greenland Sea (GSDW). We here report on new observations which suggest significant modification and expansion of this conceptual model. We find that saline outflows from the Arctic Ocean result in several distinct intermediate and deep salinity maxima within the Greenland Sea; the southward transport of the two most saline modes is probably near 2 Sv. Mixing of GSDW and the main outflow core found over the Greenland slope, derived from about 1700 m in the Arctic Ocean, cannot by itself account for the properties of NSDW. Instead, the formation of NSDW must at least in part involve a source which in the Arctic Ocean is found below 2000 m. The mixing of the various saline outflows is diapycnal. While significant NSDW production appears to occur in northern Fram Strait, large amounts of saline Arctic Ocean outflow also traverse the western Greenland Sea without mixing and enter the Iceland Sea. During the past decade, deep convection in the Greenland Sea has been greatly reduced, while deep outflow from the Arctic Ocean appears to have continued, resulting in a markedly warmer, slightly more saline, and less dense deep regime in the Greenland Sea.

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