Moored Observations of the Iceland-Scotland Overflow Plume Along the Eastern Flank of the Reykjanes Ridge

W. E. Johns, M. Devana, A. Houk, S. Zou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Since 2014, an array of current meters deployed in the Iceland Basin as part of the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program has provided new measurements of the southward flow of Iceland-Scotland Overflow Water (ISOW) along the eastern flank of the Reykjanes Ridge. The location of the array, near 58–59°N, captures the ISOW plume at the farthest downstream location in the Iceland Basin before significant amounts of ISOW can flow into the Irminger Basin through deep fractures in the Reykjanes Ridge. The net transport of the ISOW plume at this location—approximately 5.3 Sv based on the first 4 years of observations—is significantly larger than previous values obtained farther north in the Iceland Basin, suggesting that either previous measurements did not fully capture the plume transport or that additional entrainment into the ISOW plume occurs as it approaches the southern tip of the Reykjanes Ridge. A detailed water mass analysis of the plume from continuous temperature/salinity observations shows that about 50% of the plume transport (2.6 Sv) is derived from dense waters flowing over the Nordic Sea sills into the Iceland Basin, while the remainder is made up of nearly equal parts of entrained Atlantic thermocline water and modified Labrador Sea Water. The overall results from this study suggest that the ISOW plume approximately doubles its transport through entrainment, similar to that of the Denmark Strait overflow plume in the Irminger Sea that forms the other major overflow source of North Atlantic Deep Water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021JC017524
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • entrainment
  • Iceland-Scotland Overflow
  • North Atlantic Deep Water
  • transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Oceanography


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