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N. P. Holliday, S. Bacon, J. Allen, and E. L. McDonagh

Abstract

The circulation and volume transports in the western boundary currents around Cape Farewell, Greenland, are derived from full-depth hydrographic and velocity measurements from August–September 2005. The western boundary currents from surface to seafloor transport 40.5 ± 8.1 Sv (Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) southward in the Irminger Sea, and 53.8 ± 10.8 Sv northward in the Labrador Sea. The Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC, defined as water with potential density greater than 27.80 kg m−3) transports 12.3 ± 2.5 Sv southward in the Irminger Sea. The deep water transport is reduced south of Cape Farewell, where it changes flow direction from southward to northward (the south corner). At a section over the Eirik Ridge, a bathymetric feature extending southwest of Cape Farewell, the DWBC transports 8.7 ± 1.7 Sv westward. The reduction in transport at the south corner is associated with decreased velocities within the deepest layers and the volumetric loss of the most saline deep water types. The observations suggest that the paths of the shallow and deep western boundary currents diverge at the south corner. Downstream in the eastern Labrador Sea the deep water transport is increased to 19.7 ± 3.9 Sv northward, with the addition of recirculating denser deep waters. The representativeness of the results from the semisynoptic survey is discussed with reference to companion current meter measurements of the DWBC.

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B. I. Moat, B. Sinha, S. A. Josey, J. Robson, P. Ortega, F. Sévellec, N. P. Holliday, G. D. McCarthy, A. L. New, and J. J.-M. Hirschi

Abstract

An ocean mixed layer heat budget methodology is used to investigate the physical processes determining subpolar North Atlantic (SPNA) sea surface temperature (SST) and ocean heat content (OHC) variability on decadal to multidecadal time scales using the state-of-the-art climate model HadGEM3-GC2. New elements include development of an equation for evolution of anomalous SST for interannual and longer time scales in a form analogous to that for OHC, parameterization of the diffusive heat flux at the base of the mixed layer, and analysis of a composite Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) event. Contributions to OHC and SST variability from two sources are evaluated: 1) net ocean–atmosphere heat flux and 2) all other processes, including advection, diffusion, and entrainment for SST. Anomalies in OHC tendency propagate anticlockwise around the SPNA on multidecadal time scales with a clear relationship to the phase of the AMOC. AMOC anomalies lead SST tendencies, which in turn lead OHC tendencies in both the eastern and western SPNA. OHC and SST variations in the SPNA on decadal time scales are dominated by AMOC variability because it controls variability of advection, which is shown to be the dominant term in the OHC budget. Lags between OHC and SST are traced to differences between the advection term for OHC and the advection–entrainment term for SST. The new results have implications for interpretation of variations in Atlantic heat uptake in the CMIP6 climate model assessment.

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