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Reconstruction of the Gulf Stream from 1940 to the Present and Correlation with the North Atlantic Oscillation

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  • 1 Department of Astrophysics, Geophysics and Oceanography, and GeoHydrodynamics and Environment Research Unit, and Interfacultary Center for Marine Research, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium
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Abstract

In this study, the Gulf Stream (GS)’s response to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is investigated by generating an observation-based reconstruction of the GS path between 70° and 50°W since 1940. Using in situ data from the World Ocean Database (WOD), SeaDataNet, International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), Hydrobase3, and Argo floats, a harmonized database of more than 40 million entries is created. A variational inverse method implemented in the software Data Interpolating Variational Analysis (DIVA) allows the production of time series of monthly analyses of temperature and salinity over the North Atlantic (NA). These time series are used to derive two GS indices: the GS north wall (GSNW) index for position and the GS delta (GSD) index as a proxy of its transport. This study finds a significant correlation (0.37) between the GSNW and the NAO at a lag of 1 year (NAO preceding GS) since 1940 and significant correlations (0.50 and 0.43) between the GSD and the NAO at lags of 0 and 2 years between 1960 and 2014. The authors suggest this 2-yr lag is due to Rossby waves, generated by NAO variability, that propagate westward from the center of the NA. This is the first reconstruction of GS indices over a 75-yr period based on an objective method using the largest in situ dataset so far.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Sylvain Watelet, swatelet@ulg.ac.be

Abstract

In this study, the Gulf Stream (GS)’s response to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is investigated by generating an observation-based reconstruction of the GS path between 70° and 50°W since 1940. Using in situ data from the World Ocean Database (WOD), SeaDataNet, International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), Hydrobase3, and Argo floats, a harmonized database of more than 40 million entries is created. A variational inverse method implemented in the software Data Interpolating Variational Analysis (DIVA) allows the production of time series of monthly analyses of temperature and salinity over the North Atlantic (NA). These time series are used to derive two GS indices: the GS north wall (GSNW) index for position and the GS delta (GSD) index as a proxy of its transport. This study finds a significant correlation (0.37) between the GSNW and the NAO at a lag of 1 year (NAO preceding GS) since 1940 and significant correlations (0.50 and 0.43) between the GSD and the NAO at lags of 0 and 2 years between 1960 and 2014. The authors suggest this 2-yr lag is due to Rossby waves, generated by NAO variability, that propagate westward from the center of the NA. This is the first reconstruction of GS indices over a 75-yr period based on an objective method using the largest in situ dataset so far.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Sylvain Watelet, swatelet@ulg.ac.be
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