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On the Temporally Varying Northward Penetration of Mediterranean Overflow Water and Eastward Penetration of Labrador Sea Water

M. Susan LozierDivision of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

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Nicole M. StewartDivision of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

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Abstract

Historical hydrographic data in the eastern North Atlantic are used to suggest a connection between the northward penetration of Mediterranean Overflow Water (MOW) and the location of the subpolar front, the latter of which is shown to vary with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). During persistent high-NAO periods, when the subpolar front moves eastward, waters in the subpolar gyre essentially block the northward-flowing MOW, preventing its entry into the subpolar gyre. Conversely, during low NAO periods, the subpolar front moves westward, allowing MOW to penetrate past Porcupine Bank into the subpolar gyre. The impacts of an intermittent penetration of MOW into the subpolar gyre, including the possible effect on water mass transformations, remain to be investigated.

* Current affiliation: URS Corporation, Herndon, Virginia.

Corresponding author address: M. Susan Lozier, Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708. Email: mslozier@duke.edu

Abstract

Historical hydrographic data in the eastern North Atlantic are used to suggest a connection between the northward penetration of Mediterranean Overflow Water (MOW) and the location of the subpolar front, the latter of which is shown to vary with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). During persistent high-NAO periods, when the subpolar front moves eastward, waters in the subpolar gyre essentially block the northward-flowing MOW, preventing its entry into the subpolar gyre. Conversely, during low NAO periods, the subpolar front moves westward, allowing MOW to penetrate past Porcupine Bank into the subpolar gyre. The impacts of an intermittent penetration of MOW into the subpolar gyre, including the possible effect on water mass transformations, remain to be investigated.

* Current affiliation: URS Corporation, Herndon, Virginia.

Corresponding author address: M. Susan Lozier, Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708. Email: mslozier@duke.edu

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