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The East Greenland Boundary Current System South of Denmark Strait

Brearley, J. Alexander, Pickart, Robert S., Valdimarsson, Hedinn, Jonsson, Steingrimur, Schmitt, Raymond W. and Haine, Thomas, W.N. (2012) The East Greenland Boundary Current System South of Denmark Strait Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 63, pp. 1-19. (doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2012.01.001).

Record type: Article


Four repeat sections across the East Greenland shelf and slope south of Denmark Strait are analysed to investigate the components of the boundary current system. The sections were occupied in summer 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2007, and included use of a vessel-mounted acoustic Doppler current profiler, enabling the computation of absolute geostrophic velocities. The components of the boundary current are the East Greenland/Irminger Current (EGIC) in the upper layer, the Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC) at the base of the continental slope, and the East Greenland spill jet which resides inshore and beneath the EGIC. Special emphasis is placed on the spill jet, a recently discovered feature about which relatively little is known. The spill jet was observed in each occupation, transporting 5.0±2.2 Sv equatorward in the mean, which is similar to the DWBC at this latitude (4.9±1.4 Sv). The spill jet displayed considerable variability between sections, which appears to be linked to the geographical location of the upper-layer hydrographic front associated with the EGIC. When the front is located near the shelfbreak, the spill jet is confined to the outer shelf/upper slope and its transport is smaller. During these times there is less mixing and the water advected by the jet is generally lighter than that transported by the DWBC. In contrast, when the front is located seaward of the shelfbreak, the spill jet extends farther down the continental slope and its volume flux is larger. At these times, there is stronger mixing and the spill jet can transport water as dense as the Denmark Strait Overflow Water. A vorticity analysis indicates that the jet is susceptible to a variety of instability processes including baroclinic, barotropic and symmetric instability. In addition, it is subject to double diffusive mixing that may influence its downstream evolution. It appears that the spill jet is a permanent feature of the summertime circulation in this region and contributes significantly to the intermediate, and at times deep, limb of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation.

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Published date: 1 May 2012
Keywords: East Greenland boundary current, Denmark Strait Overflow Water, Interannual variability, Overturning, Mixing
Organisations: Physical Oceanography


Local EPrints ID: 336651
ISSN: 0967-0637
PURE UUID: cdbb2bbb-549d-45d0-b8d5-5e7f53123f87

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Date deposited: 03 Apr 2012 08:34
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 06:06

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Author: J. Alexander Brearley
Author: Robert S. Pickart
Author: Hedinn Valdimarsson
Author: Steingrimur Jonsson
Author: Raymond W. Schmitt
Author: Thomas, W.N. Haine

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