Puzzling over the dynamics of the Lofoten Basin - A sub-Arctic hot spot of ocean variability

Denis L. Volkov, Tatyana V. Belonenko, Victor R. Foux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


A sub-Arctic "hot spot" of intense synoptic-scale variability is observed in the Lofoten Basin (LB) of the Norwegian Sea. Using ERS-1/2 and Envisat satellite altimetry measurements, we discover a cyclonic propagation of the synoptic-scale sea surface height anomalies around the center of the LB. Surface drifter trajectories do not reveal an associated coherent near-surface cyclonic flow suggesting that the propagating signals have a wavelike nature. We identify a dipole and a quadrupole wave modes rotating around the center of the LB, obtain analytic dispersion relations for these modes, and demonstrate that the observed propagation is a manifestation of topographic Rossby waves. Most of the observed waves have a wavelength of about 500 km and phase speeds ranging from 2 to 10 km/day. We show that these waves are largely responsible for the localization and amplification of sea surface height variability in the center of the LB. Key Points discovered cyclonic propagation of SSH anomalies around the center of LB propagation is related to topographic Rossby waves waves are responsible for the amplification of SSH variability in the LB

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)738-743
Number of pages6
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 28 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • lofoten Basin
  • Norwegian Sea
  • Rossby waves
  • satellite altimetry
  • sea level
  • topographic waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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