Transport of salt and freshwater in the Atlantic Subpolar Gyre

Born, Andreas; Stocker, Thomas; Sandø, Anne Britt (2016). Transport of salt and freshwater in the Atlantic Subpolar Gyre. Ocean Dynamics, 66(9), pp. 1051-1064. Springer 10.1007/s10236-016-0970-y

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Transport of salt in the Irminger Current, the northern branch of the Atlantic Subpolar Gyre coupling the eastern and western subpolar North Atlantic, plays an important role for climate variability across a wide range of time scales. High-resolution ocean modeling and observations indicate that salinities in the eastern subpolar North Atlantic decrease with enhanced circulation of the North Atlantic subpolar gyre (SPG). This has led to the perception that a stronger SPG also transports less salt westward. In this study, we analyze a regional ocean model and a comprehensive global coupled climate model, and show that a stronger SPG transports more salt in the Irminger Current irrespective of lower salinities in its source region. The additional salt converges in the Labrador Sea and the Irminger Basin by eddy transports, increases surface salinity in the western SPG, and favors more intense deep convection. This is part of a positive feedback mechanism with potentially large implications for climate variability and predictability.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Climate and Environmental Physics
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)

UniBE Contributor:

Born, Andreas and Stocker, Thomas


500 Science > 530 Physics
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








Monika Wälti-Stampfli

Date Deposited:

28 Oct 2016 07:54

Last Modified:

28 Oct 2016 07:54

Publisher DOI:





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