On the Cascading of Dense Shelf Waters in the Irminger Sea

Anastasia Falina P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Moscow, Russia

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Artem Sarafanov P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Moscow, Russia

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Herlé Mercier CNRS, Laboratoire de Physique des Océans, Plouzané, France

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Pascale Lherminier Ifremer, Laboratoire de Physique des Océans, Plouzané, France

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Alexey Sokov P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Moscow, Russia

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Nathalie Daniault UBO, Laboratoire de Physique des Océans, Brest, France

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Abstract

Hydrographic data collected in the Irminger Sea in the 1990s–2000s indicate that dense shelf waters carried by the East Greenland Current south of the Denmark Strait intermittently descend (cascade) down the continental slope and merge with the deep waters originating from the Nordic Seas overflows. Repeat measurements on the East Greenland shelf at ~200 km south of the Denmark Strait (65°–66°N) reveal that East Greenland shelf waters in the Irminger Sea are occasionally as dense (σ0 > 27.80) as the overflow-derived deep waters carried by the Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC). Clear hydrographic traces of upstream cascading of dense shelf waters are found over the continental slope at 64.3°N, where the densest plumes (σ0 > 27.80) originating from the shelf are identified as distinct low-salinity anomalies in the DWBC. Downstream observations suggest that dense fresh waters descending from the shelf in the northern Irminger Sea can be distinguished in the DWBC up to the latitude of Cape Farewell (~60°N) and that these waters make a significant contribution to the DWBC transport.

Corresponding author address: Anastasia Falina, P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, 36, Nakhimovskiy Prospect, 117997 Moscow, Russia. E-mail: falina_a@mail.ru

Abstract

Hydrographic data collected in the Irminger Sea in the 1990s–2000s indicate that dense shelf waters carried by the East Greenland Current south of the Denmark Strait intermittently descend (cascade) down the continental slope and merge with the deep waters originating from the Nordic Seas overflows. Repeat measurements on the East Greenland shelf at ~200 km south of the Denmark Strait (65°–66°N) reveal that East Greenland shelf waters in the Irminger Sea are occasionally as dense (σ0 > 27.80) as the overflow-derived deep waters carried by the Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC). Clear hydrographic traces of upstream cascading of dense shelf waters are found over the continental slope at 64.3°N, where the densest plumes (σ0 > 27.80) originating from the shelf are identified as distinct low-salinity anomalies in the DWBC. Downstream observations suggest that dense fresh waters descending from the shelf in the northern Irminger Sea can be distinguished in the DWBC up to the latitude of Cape Farewell (~60°N) and that these waters make a significant contribution to the DWBC transport.

Corresponding author address: Anastasia Falina, P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, 36, Nakhimovskiy Prospect, 117997 Moscow, Russia. E-mail: falina_a@mail.ru
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