Arctic Outflow West Of Greenland: Nine Years Of Volume And Freshwater Transports From Observations In Davis Strait

Friday, 19 December 2014
Beth Curry, University of Washington Seattle Campus, Seattle, WA, United States, Craig Lee, Univ Washington, Seattle, WA, United States, Brian Petrie, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, NS, Canada, Richard E Moritz, University of Washington, Kapaa, HI, United States and Ronald Kwok, JPL, Pasadena, CA, United States
Recent Arctic changes suggest alterations in the export of freshwater from the Arctic to the North Atlantic, with conceivable impacts on the Atlantic Meridional Overturning circulation. Approximately 50% of the Arctic outflow exits west of Greenland, traveling through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA) and into Baffin Bay before crossing Davis Strait. The CAA outflow contributes over 50% of the net southward freshwater outflow through Davis Strait. The remainder is deeper outflow from Baffin Bay, flow from the West Greenland Current and runoff from West Greenland and CAA glaciers.

Since September 2004, an observational program in Davis Strait has quantified volume and freshwater transport variability. The year-round program includes velocity, temperature and salinity measurements from 15 moorings spanning the full width (330 km) of the strait accompanied by autonomous Seagliders surveys (average profile separation = 4 km) and autumn ship-based hydrographic sections. Over the shallow Baffin Island and West Greenland shelves, moored instrumentation provides temperature and salinity measurements near the ice-ocean interface. From 2004-2013, the average net volume and liquid freshwater transports are -1.6 ± 0.2 Sv, -94 ± 7 mSv, respectively (salinity referenced to 34.8 and negative indicates southward transport); sea ice contributes an additional -10 ± 1 mSv. Over this period, volume and liquid freshwater transports show significant interannual variability and no clear trends, but a comparison with reanalyzed 1987-90 data indicate a roughly 40% decrease in net southward liquid volume transport and a corresponding an almost 30% decrease in freshwater transport. Connections between the Arctic are also captured, e.g., a unique yearlong Davis Strait freshening event starting September 2009 that was likely driven by an earlier freshening (January 2009 – April/May 2010) in the Canadian Arctic. The Davis Strait autumn 2009 salinity minimum was fresher (by about 0.2), lasted longer, and spanned a greater distance across the strait than in other years.