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Deep Flow Variability Offshore South-West Svalbard (Fram Strait)

1
OGS – National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics, 34010 Sgonico, Italy
2
CNR–ISMAR – Italian National Research Council, Institute of Marine Sciences, 30122 Venice, Italy
3
IOPAN – Institute of Oceanology Polish Academy of Sciences, 81-712 Sopot, Poland
4
AWI – Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz-Center for Polar and Marine Research, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
5
Arctic Geophysics Department, UNIS—The University Centre in Svalbard, P.O. Box 156, N-9171 Longyearbyen, Norway
6
Department of Marine Sciences, UGOT–University of Gothenburg, 100, SE-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden
7
CNR–ISAC – Italian National Research Council, Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Bologna, I-40129, Italy
8
Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics, DAIS – University Ca’ Foscari of Venice, 30172 Mestre, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(4), 683; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11040683
Received: 22 February 2019 / Revised: 22 March 2019 / Accepted: 29 March 2019 / Published: 2 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ocean Exchange and Circulation)
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Abstract

Water mass generation and mixing in the eastern Fram Strait are strongly influenced by the interaction between Atlantic and Arctic waters and by the local atmospheric forcing, which produce dense water that substantially contributes to maintaining the global thermohaline circulation. The West Spitsbergen margin is an ideal area to study such processes. Hence, in order to investigate the deep flow variability on short-term, seasonal, and multiannual timescales, two moorings were deployed at ~1040 m depth on the southwest Spitsbergen continental slope. We present and discuss time series data collected between June 2014 and June 2016. They reveal thermohaline and current fluctuations that were largest from October to April, when the deep layer, typically occupied by Norwegian Sea Deep Water, was perturbed by sporadic intrusions of warmer, saltier, and less dense water. Surprisingly, the observed anomalies occurred quasi-simultaneously at both sites, despite their distance (~170 km). We argue that these anomalies may arise mainly by the effect of topographically trapped waves excited and modulated by atmospheric forcing. Propagation of internal waves causes a change in the vertical distribution of the Atlantic water, which can reach deep layers. During such events, strong currents typically precede thermohaline variations without significant changes in turbidity. However, turbidity increases during April–June in concomitance with enhanced downslope currents. Since prolonged injections of warm water within the deep layer could lead to a progressive reduction of the density of the abyssal water moving toward the Arctic Ocean, understanding the interplay between shelf, slope, and deep waters along the west Spitsbergen margin could be crucial for making projections on future changes in the global thermohaline circulation. View Full-Text
Keywords: Fram Strait; deep sea thermohaline variability; slope currents; wind-induced processes; shelf-slope dynamics Fram Strait; deep sea thermohaline variability; slope currents; wind-induced processes; shelf-slope dynamics
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Bensi, M.; Kovačević, V.; Langone, L.; Aliani, S.; Ursella, L.; Goszczko, I.; Soltwedel, T.; Skogseth, R.; Nilsen, F.; Deponte, D.; Mansutti, P.; Laterza, R.; Rebesco, M.; Rui, L.; Lucchi, R.G.; Wåhlin, A.; Viola, A.; Beszczynska-Möller, A.; Rubino, A. Deep Flow Variability Offshore South-West Svalbard (Fram Strait). Water 2019, 11, 683.

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