Recent variations in oceanic transports across the Greenland–Scotland Ridge

Michael Mayer, Takamasa Tsubouchi, Susanna Winkelbauer, Karin Margretha Húsgarð Larsen, Barbara Berx, Andreas Macrander, Doroteaciro Iovino, Steingrímur Jónsson, Richard Renshaw

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Oceanic exchanges across the Greenland–Scotland Ridge (GSR) play a crucial role in shaping the Arctic climate and linking with the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. Most considered ocean reanalyses underestimate the observed 1993–2020 mean net inflow of warm and saline Atlantic Water of 8.0 ± 0.5 Sv by up to 15 %, with reanalyses at 0.25∘ resolution additionally exhibiting larger biases in the single inflow branches compared to higher-resolution products. The underestimation of Atlantic Water inflow translates into a low bias in mean oceanic heat flux at the GSR of 5 %–22 % in reanalyses compared to the observed value of 280 ± 18 TW. Interannual variations in reanalysis transports correlate reasonably well with observed transports in most branches crossing the GSR. Observations and reanalyses with data assimilation show a marked reduction in oceanic heat flux across the GSR of 4 %–9 % (compared to 1993–2020 means) during a biennial (2-year-long) period centered on 2018, a record low for several products. The anomaly was associated with a temporary reduction in geostrophic Atlantic Water inflow through the Faroe–Shetland branch and was augmented by anomalously cool temperatures of Atlantic Water arriving at the GSR. The latter is linked to a recent strengthening of the North Atlantic subpolar gyre and illustrates the interplay of interannual and decadal changes in modulating transports at the GSR.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalState of the Planet
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2023


  • AMOC
  • climate change
  • Atlantic Water
  • Greenland Scotland Ridge


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