Heat budgets of the Arctic Mediterranean and sea surface heat flux parameterizations for the Nordic Seas

Knud Simonsen, Peter M. Haugan

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102 Citations (Scopus)


A review is given of volume and heat budgets for the Arctic Ocean and the Nordic Seas based on oceanic transport observations. The present preferred estimates indicate a northward transport of about 300 TW through the Greenland-Scotland passage of which 50–80 TW continues into the Arctic Ocean. The net budgets for the Nordic Seas are about 220–250 TW. Regional surface heat budgets are computed based on climatological data from the Comprehensive Ocean Atmosphere Data Set and European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts in addition to monthly mean weather station temperature data from the Carbon Dioxide Information Center database. Each of the terms in the sea surface heat budget is computed with several parameterizations, which are frequently applied in heat budget calculations and in ocean and sea ice modeling. Combining all parameterizations for each term provides 90 different parameterizations of the sea surface heat budget. On the basis of identical climatological data, the surface heat budgets for the Nordic Seas vary from a heat loss of 304 TW to a heat gain of 52 TW. The heat loss from the Barents Sea is in the range from 42 to 162 TW. Twelve combinations of the parameterizations provide a heat budget for the Nordic Seas which is within the advective estimates. One is selected for use in ocean modeling of this region. The same parameterizations provide a heat loss of 129–147 TW (or 98–112 Wm−2) from the Barents Sea. Published volume transports and temperatures indicate that the heat loss from the Barents Sea is only within 28–80 TW. Our results suggest that the heat transport from the Norwegian Sea to the Barents Sea is larger than recent advective estimates, and, thus, that the Barents Sea plays a major role in renewal of the deep water and the thermohaline circulation of the Arctic Mediterranean.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6553-6576
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research. Oceans
Issue numberc3
Publication statusPublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


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