Seasonal cycles of oceanic transports in the eastern subpolar North Atlantic

Stefan Gary, Stuart Cunningham, Clare Johnson, Loic Houpert, N. Penny Holliday, Erik Behrens, Arne Biastoch, Claus W. Böning

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The variability of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) may play a role in sea surface temperature predictions on seasonal to decadal time scales. Therefore, AMOC seasonal cycles are a potential baseline for interpreting predictions. Here, we present estimates for the seasonal cycle of transports of volume, temperature, and freshwater associated with the upper limb of the AMOC in the eastern subpolar North Atlantic on the Extended Ellett Line hydrographic section between Scotland and Iceland. Due to weather, ship-based observations are primarily in summer. Recent glider observations during other seasons present an opportunity to investigate the seasonal variability in the upper layer of the AMOC. First, we document a new method to quality control
and merge ship, oat, and glider hydrographic observations. This method accounts for the different spatial sampling rates of the three platforms. The merged observations are used to compute seasonal cycles of volume, temperature, and freshwater transports in the Rockall Trough. These estimates are similar to the seasonal cycles in two eddy-resolving ocean models. Volume transport appears to be the primary factor modulating other Rockall Trough transports. Finally, we show that the weakest transports occur in summer, consistent with seasonal changes in the regional-scale wind stress curl. Although the seasonal cycle is weak compared to other variability in this region, the amplitude of the seasonal cycle in the Rockall Trough, roughly 0.5 to 1 Sv about a mean of 3.4 Sv, may account for up to 7 to 14 % of the heat flux between Scotland and Greenland
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1471-1484
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Early online date1 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2018


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