Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 31 Issue 01

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Volume 31, No. 1
Pages 50 - 59


Deep Convection in the Irminger Sea Observed with a Dense Mooring Array

By M. Femke de Jong , Marilena Oltmanns, Johannes Karstensen, and Laura de Steur 
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Article Abstract

Deep convection is a key process in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, but because it acts at small scales, it remains poorly resolved by climate models. The occurrence of deep convection depends on weak initial stratification and strong surface buoyancy forcing, conditions that are satisfied in only a few ocean basins. In 2014, one of the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) global arrays was installed close to the Central Irminger Sea (CIS) and the Long-term Ocean Circulation Observations (LOCO) moorings in the central Irminger Sea. These programs’ six moorings are located in the center of an area of deep convection and are distributed within a 50 km radius, thus offering detailed insight into spatial differences during the strong convection events that occurred during the winters of 2014/2015 and 2015/2016. Deep mixed layers, down to approximately 1,600 m, formed during both winters. The properties of the convectively renewed water mass at each mooring converge to a common temperature and salinity before restratification sets in at the end of winter. The largest differences in onset (or timing) of convection and restratification are seen between the northernmost and southernmost moorings. High-resolution atmospheric reanalysis data show there is higher atmospheric forcing at the northernmost mooring due to a more favorable position with respect to the Greenland tip jet. Nevertheless, earlier onset, and more continuous cooling and deepening of mixed layers, occurs at the southernmost mooring, while convection at the northern mooring is frequently interrupted by warm events. We propose that these warm events are associated with eddies and filaments originating from the Irminger Current off the coast of Greenland and that convection further south benefits from cold inflow from the southwest.


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