16 May 2022
16 May 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Major sources of North Atlantic Deep Water in the subpolar North Atlantic from Lagrangian analyses in a high–resolution ocean model

Jörg Fröhle1,2,, Patricia Handmann1,, and Arne Biastoch1,2 Jörg Fröhle et al.
  • 1GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Kiel, Germany
  • 2Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany
  • These authors have contributed equally to this work and share first authorship.

Abstract. North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) is a crucial component of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and, therefore, is an important factor of the climate system. In order to estimate the mean relative contributions, sources and pathways of the three different deep water mass components (namely Labrador Sea Water, Northeast Atlantic Deep Water and Denmark Strait Overflow Water) at the southern exit of the Labrador Sea, Lagrangian particle experiments were performed. The particles were seeded according to the strength of the velocity field along the 53° N section and computed 40 years backward in time in the three-dimensional velocity and hydrography field. Water masses were defined within the model output in the central Labrador Sea and the subpolar North Atlantic. The resulting transport pathways, their sources and corresponding transit time scales were inferred. Our experiments show that the majority of NADW passing 53° N is associated with diapycnal mass flux, accounting for 14.3 Sv (48 %), where 6.2 Sv originate from the Labrador Sea, compared to 4.7 Sv from the Irminger Sea. The second largest contribution originates from the mixed layer with 7.2 Sv (24 %), where the Labrador Sea contribution (5.9 Sv) dominates over the Irminger Sea contribution (1.0 Sv). Another 5.7 Sv (19 %) of NADW cross the Greenland–Scotland Ridge within the NADW density class, where about 2/3 pass Denmark Strait, while 1/3 cross the Iceland Scotland Ridge. The NADW exported at 53° N is hence dominated by entrainment through diapycnal mass flux and the mixed layer origin in the Labrador Sea.

Jörg Fröhle et al.

Status: open (until 11 Jul 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Jörg Fröhle et al.

Jörg Fröhle et al.


Total article views: 243 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total BibTeX EndNote
182 51 10 243 4 4
  • HTML: 182
  • PDF: 51
  • XML: 10
  • Total: 243
  • BibTeX: 4
  • EndNote: 4
Views and downloads (calculated since 16 May 2022)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 16 May 2022)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 215 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 215 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
Latest update: 02 Jul 2022
Short summary
Three deep water masses pass the southern exit of the Labrador Sea. Usually they are defined by explicit density intervals linked to the formation region. We evaluate this relation in an ocean model by backtracking the paths the water follows for 40 years. 48 % densify without contact to the atmosphere. 24 % densify in contact with the atmosphere and 19 % come from the Nordic Seas. All three contribute to a similar density interval with very weak specific formation location characteristics.