Transport and Evolution of the East Reykjanes Ridge Current

G. Koman, W. E. Johns, A. Houk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This study of the first continuous multiyear observations of the East Reykjanes Ridge Current (ERRC) reveals a highly variable, mostly barotropic southwestward flow with a mean transport of 10–13 Sv. The ERRC effectively acts as a western boundary current in the Iceland Basin on the eastern flank of the Reykjanes Ridge. As part of the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program (OSNAP), continuous measurements of the ERRC have been maintained for the first time using acoustic Doppler current profilers, current meters, and dynamic height moorings at six mooring sites near 58°N since 2014. Together with satellite altimetry and Argo profile and drift data, the mean transport, synoptic variability, water mass properties, and upstream and downstream pathways of the ERRC are examined. Results show that the ERRC forms in the northeastern Iceland Basin at the convergence of surface waters from the North Atlantic Current and deeper Icelandic Slope Water formed along the Iceland-Faroe Ridge. The ERRC becomes denser as it cools and freshens along the northern and western topography of the Basin before retroflecting over the Reykjanes Ridge near 59°N into the Irminger Current. Analysis of the flow-weighted density changes along the ERRC's path reveals that it is responsible for about one third of the net potential density change of waters circulating around the rim of the subpolar gyre.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020JC016377
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • East Reykjanes Ridge Current
  • Iceland Basin
  • Icelandic Slope Water
  • North Atlantic Current
  • North Atlantic subpolar gyre
  • overturning circulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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