Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2492
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2492
07 Dec 2023
 | 07 Dec 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Estimation of ice melt, freshwater budget, and their multi-decadal trends in the Baffin Bay and Labrador Sea

Vigan Mensah, Koji Fujita, Stephen Howell, Miho Ikeda, Mizuki Komatsu, and Kay I. Ohshima

Abstract. The Labrador Sea and contiguous Baffin Bay play an important role in the formation of the upper layer of the North Atlantic Deep Water, an essential component of the Atlantic Meridional Ocean Circulation. The hydrography of these two seas is strongly influenced by the melting of sea-ice and glacier-ice, which has likely been affected by long-term climate changes. In this study, we use historical data of ocean temperature and salinity from 1950 to 2022 to estimate the summer freshwater volume (SFV) in Baffin Bay and the Labrador Sea, establish climatologies, and assess the impact of multi-decadal climate change. The SFV climatology (1956 km3) and the summer freshwater budget (2286 km3) estimated from various components are in good agreement. Sea ice and glacial melt account for 37 % and 26 % of the freshwater budget, respectively. SFV climatologies before and after 1995 reveal an increase in Baffin Bay (+226 km3) because of enhanced glacier melting, and a decline (-112 km3) in the Labrador Sea because of recent sea ice volume decreases. The time series of Labrador Sea SFV and total freshwater content are uncorrelated at the multi-decadal scale possibly because the influx of freshwater from the Beaufort Sea dominates the long-term variability.

Vigan Mensah, Koji Fujita, Stephen Howell, Miho Ikeda, Mizuki Komatsu, and Kay I. Ohshima

Status: open (extended)

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Vigan Mensah, Koji Fujita, Stephen Howell, Miho Ikeda, Mizuki Komatsu, and Kay I. Ohshima
Vigan Mensah, Koji Fujita, Stephen Howell, Miho Ikeda, Mizuki Komatsu, and Kay I. Ohshima

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Short summary
We estimated the volume of freshwater released by sea ice, glaciers, rivers, and precipitation into Baffin Bay and the Labrador Sea, and their changes over the past 70 years. We found that the freshwater volume has risen in Baffin Bay due to increased glacier melting, and dropped in the Labrador Sea because of the decline in sea ice production. We also infer that freshwater from the Arctic Ocean has been exported to our study region for the past 30 years, possibly as a result of global warming.