Freshwater fluxes through the Western Fram Strait



Two hydrographic and δ18O transects across Fram Strait (Aug–Sept 1997, 1998) are used to examine freshwater contributions to the East Greenland Current (EGC). The EGC featured up to ∼16% meteoric water in both years, but was made comparatively more saline through the formation of up to ∼11 m of sea ice. We derive meteoric water fluxes of ∼3680 km³yr−1 in Aug-Sept 1997, and ∼2000 km³yr−1 in Aug–Sept 1998. The 1997 and 1998 data show a long-term mean sea ice flux through Fram Strait around half the long-term mean meteoric water flux. A 1991 δ18O section [Bauch et al., 1995] yielded a very similar ratio. Our 1998 section reveals fresh, low-δ18O water on the East Greenland shelf whose comparatively large volume constitutes a potentially significant contribution to the total freshwater flux through Fram Strait. Such fluxes are important to the regional and global thermohaline circulation; we suggest that efforts towards monitoring both the EGC and East Greenland shelf waters are thus required.