Assessing the Roles of Three Eddy Types in Restratifying the Labrador Sea after Deep Convection

Peer Reviewed

Gelderloos R, Katsman CA, & Drijfhout SS

Journal of Physical Oceanography 41, Issue 11, pages 2102-2119, 2011, 10.1175/JPO-D-11-054.1.

Restratification after deep convection is one of the key factors in determining the temporal variability of dense water formation in the Labrador Sea. In the subsurface, it is primarily governed by lateral buoyancy fluxes during early spring. The roles of three different eddy types in this process are assessed using an idealized model of the Labrador Sea that simulates the restratification season. The first eddy type, warm-core Irminger rings, is shed from the boundary current along the west coast of Greenland. All along the coastline, the boundary current forms boundary current eddies. The third type, convective eddies, arises directly around the convection area. In the model, the latter two eddy types are together responsible for replenishing 30% of the winter heat loss within 6 months. Irminger rings add another 45% to this number. The authors’ results thus confirm that the presence of Irminger rings is essential for a realistic amount of restratification in this area. The model results are compared to observations using theoretical estimates of restratification time scales derived for the three eddy types. The time scales are also used to explain contradicting conclusions in previous studies on their respective roles.

Keywords: Boundary currents, Deep convection, Eddies
Categories: Arctic, Natural Science