Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2963
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2963
11 Dec 2023
 | 11 Dec 2023

Observed change and the extent of coherence in the Gulf Stream system

Helene Asbjørnsen, Tor Eldevik, Johanne Skrefsrud, Helen L. Johnson, and Alejandra Sanchez-Franks

Abstract. By transporting warm and salty water poleward, the Gulf Stream system maintains a mild climate in northwestern Europe while also facilitating the dense water formation that feeds the deep ocean. The sensitivity of North Atlantic circulation to future greenhouse gas emissions seen in climate models has prompted an increasing effort to monitor the various ocean circulation components in recent decades. Here, we synthesise available ocean transport measurements from several observational programs in the North Atlantic and Nordic Seas, as well as an ocean state estimate (ECCOv4-r4), for an enhanced understanding of the Gulf Stream and its poleward extensions as an interconnected circulation system. We see limited coherence between the records on interannual time scales, highlighting the local oceanic response to atmospheric circulation patterns and variable recirculation time scales within the gyres. On decadal time scales, we find a weakening subtropical circulation between the mid-2000s and mid-2010s, while the inflow and circulation in the Nordic Seas remained stable. Differing decadal trends in the subtropics, subpolar North Atlantic, and Nordic Seas warrant caution in using observational records at a single latitude to infer large-scale circulation change.

Helene Asbjørnsen, Tor Eldevik, Johanne Skrefsrud, Helen L. Johnson, and Alejandra Sanchez-Franks

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2963', Christopher Piecuch, 10 Jan 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Helene Asbjørnsen, 09 Apr 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2963', Anonymous Referee #2, 12 Mar 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Helene Asbjørnsen, 09 Apr 2024
Helene Asbjørnsen, Tor Eldevik, Johanne Skrefsrud, Helen L. Johnson, and Alejandra Sanchez-Franks
Helene Asbjørnsen, Tor Eldevik, Johanne Skrefsrud, Helen L. Johnson, and Alejandra Sanchez-Franks

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Short summary
The Gulf Stream system is essential for poleward ocean heat transport. Here, we use observations along the Gulf Stream system path northward, and an observationally-constrained ocean model, to investigate variability in the Gulf Stream system since the 1990s. We find regional differences in the variability between the subtropical, subpolar, and Nordic Seas regions, which warrants caution in using observational records at a single latitude to infer large-scale circulation change.