Emerging Influence of Enhanced Greenland Melting on Boundary Currents and Deep Convection Regimes in the Labrador and Irminger Seas.

Schiller-Weiss, Ilana, Martin, Torge and Schwarzkopf, Franziska U. (2024) Emerging Influence of Enhanced Greenland Melting on Boundary Currents and Deep Convection Regimes in the Labrador and Irminger Seas. Open Access Geophysical Research Letters, 51 (9). e2024GL109022. DOI 10.1029/2024GL109022.

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Abstract

Freshwater input from Greenland ice sheet melt has been increasing in the past decades from warming temperatures. To identify the impacts from enhanced meltwater input into the subpolar North Atlantic from 1997 to 2021, we use output from two nearly identical simulations in the eddy-rich model VIKING20X (1/20°) only differing in the freshwater input from Greenland: one with realistic interannually varying runoff increasing in the early 2000s and the other with climatologically (1961–2000) continued runoff. The majority of the additional freshwater remains within the boundary current enhancing the density gradient toward the warm and salty interior waters yielding increased current velocities. The accelerated boundary current shows a tendency to enhanced, upstream shifted eddy shedding into the Labrador Sea interior. Further, the experiments allow to attribute higher stratification and shallower mixed layers southwest of Greenland and deeper mixed layers in the Irminger Sea, particularly in 2015–2018, to the runoff increase in the early 2000s.

Key Points

The West Greenland Current (WGC) freshens and cools with the observed recent increase in meltwater runoff from Greenland

The density gradient across the boundary current intensifies, strengthening the WGC and increasing local eddy formation

Enhanced meltwater runoff contributed to an eastward shift in deep convection towards the Irminger Sea (2015–2018)

Plain Language Summary

Global warming has accelerated the melting of the Greenland ice sheet over the past few decades resulting in enhanced freshwater input into the North Atlantic. The additional freshwater can potentially inhibit deep water formation and have future implications on ocean circulation. To determine the influence from Greenland melt, we compare two high-resolution model experiments all with the same forcing but differing input of Greenland freshwater fluxes from 1997 to 2021. We find that in the experiment with realistically increasing Greenland meltwater, the water becomes fresher and cooler along the continental shelf and boundary of the subpolar gyre. The density difference between the shelf and interior increases with more freshwater, resulting in faster West Greenland Current speeds and enhanced eddy formation. Deeper mixed layers are found in the eastern Irminger Sea, particularly in 2015–2018. From 2009 to 2013, there were shallower mixed layers in the Labrador Sea where less Greenland meltwater was mixed downwards and spread eastward, causing mixed layers to deepen in the Irminger Sea.

Document Type: Article
Funder compliance: DFG: MA 4039/1-1
Keywords: NORTH-ATLANTIC OCEAN, CURRENT SYSTEMICE-SHEET, MESOSCALE EDDIES, FRESH-WATER, MODEL, SEASONALITY, VARIABILITY, CIRCULATION, EVOLUTION
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-OD Ocean Dynamics
Main POF Topic: PT2: Ocean and Cryosphere
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
Publisher: AGU (American Geophysical Union), Wiley
Related URLs:
Projects: G-Shocx, Earth System Modelling Project (EMS), Opendap
Expeditions/Models/Experiments:
Date Deposited: 17 May 2024 08:36
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2024 15:31
URI: https://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/60100

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