Atlantic water in the Faroe area: sources and variability

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The inflow of Atlantic water (AW) across the Greenland–Scotland Ridge and into the Nordic Seas controls both physical and biological conditions in the northeastern Atlantic through its transport of heat, salt, and other properties. The two main branches of this flow pass through the Iceland–Faroe Gap and the Faroe–Shetland Channel, respectively. Regular monitoring along four standard sections crossing these flows provides time-series of the AW temperature and salinity variability since the late 1980s. The analysis of these series presented shows a persistent increasing trend in both temperature and salinity, modulated by smaller subdecadal oscillations. Using supplementary data sources, the previously established link between the large-scale circulation in the North Atlantic and Atlantic inflow properties is supported. Salinity is also impacted by large changes in the Bay of Biscay source waters, and upstream air–sea heat fluxes modulate temperature. Relationships between changes in transport and associated residence time, and the modifying strength of the air–sea interaction and mixing, are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)802-808
Number of pages7
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2012


  • air– sea interaction
  • Atlantic inflow
  • source waters
  • subdecadal variability
  • Subpolar Gyre


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