Dense water formation on the Icelandic shelf and its contribution to the North Icelandic Jet

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • The North Icelandic Jet (NIJ) is the densest component of the Denmark Strait Overflow Water, feeding the abyssal limb of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. Here, by using observational and numerical model data, we explore the formation of overflow water on the Icelandic shelf, the mechanisms involved, and its potential contribution to the NIJ. The sparse observational data on the western Icelandic shelf for the month of February shows top-to-bottom mixing on the shelf, distinct
    and well separated from the dense water offshore, with densities larger than 27.8 kg/m3 in some years. Using a 1-D mixing model and winter heat flux reanalysis, we suggest that waters with densities exceeding 27.8 kg/m3 are likely to be formed on the shelf in most years by the end of winter. High-resolution numerical model data shows that the transformation of the Atlantic inflow along the northwest Icelandic shelf generates a dense plume whose waters feed into the NIJ. The bulk of the plume cascades downslope north of Iceland, funneled through deep cross-shelf troughs, with some cascading occurring west of Iceland as well. During years of strong cascading events (2008, 2013, and 2016), the modeled dense plume potentially feeds up to 21% of the NIJ transport at the Siglunes and Kögur sections. Back-tracked Lagrangian particle trajectories confirm that the western Icelandic shelf is a source of the NIJ. The dense plume transport and variability are found to be dependent on the total oceanic heat loss west of Iceland and along Denmark Strait.

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    Article (Published)
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    © 2021. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
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    • Garcia-Quintana, Y*; Grivault, N; Hu, X; Myers, PG. (2021). Dense water formation on the Icelandic shelf and its contribution to the North Icelandic Jet. Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans.