Rapid Freshening of Iceland Scotland Overflow Water Driven by Entrainment of a Major Upper Ocean Salinity Anomaly

Manish S. Devana, William E. Johns, Adam Houk, Sijia Zou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Newly available mooring observations from the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program (OSNAP) show an abrupt decline in Iceland Scotland Overflow (ISOW) salinity from 2017 to 2018 summer. Previous declines in ISOW salinity of similar magnitude have largely been attributed to changes in convectively formed deep waters in the Nordic Seas on decadal time scales. We show that this rapid decline in salinity was driven by entrainment of a major upper ocean salinity anomaly in the Iceland Basin. This is shown by tracking the propagation of the upper ocean anomaly into ISOW using a combination of mooring and Argo observations, surface drifter trajectories, and numerical model results. A 2-year total transit time from the upper ocean into the ISOW layer was found. The results show that entrainment allows for rapid modification of ISOW, and consequently the lower limb of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, on subdecadal timescales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021GL094396
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume48
Issue number22
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 28 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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