Propagation pathways of classical Labrador Sea water from its source region to 26°N

Erik Van Sebille, Molly O. Baringer, William E. Johns, Christopher S. Meinen, Lisa M. Beal, M. Femke De Jong, Hendrik M. Van Aken

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46 Scopus citations


More than two decades of hydrography on the Abaco line east of the Bahamas at 26N reveals decadal variability in the salinity of classical Labrador Sea Water (cLSW), despite the long distance from its source region in the North Atlantic Ocean. Hydrographic time series from the Labrador Sea and from the Abaco line show a pronounced step-like decrease in salinity between 1985 and 1995 in the Labrador Sea and between 1995 and 2010 at the Abaco line, suggesting a time lag between the two locations of approximately 9 years. The amplitude of the anomaly at the Abaco line is 50% of the amplitude in the Labrador Sea. A similar time lag and reduction of amplitude is found in the high-resolution OFES model, in which salinity anomalies can be observed propagating through the Deep Western Boundary Current as well as through a broad interior pathway. On its way south to the Abaco line, the cLSW becomes 8 standard deviations saltier due to isopycnal mixing with Mediterranean Outflow Water (MOW). Climatological data in the North Atlantic suggests that the mixing ratio of MOW to cLSW at the Abaco line is 1:4 and that no variability in MOW is required to explain the observed variability at the Abaco line. The data studied here suggest that decadal cLSW anomalies stay relatively coherent while getting advected, despite the important role of interior pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberC12027
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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