Increasing exchanges at Greenland-Scotland Ridge and their links with the North Atlantic Oscillation and Arctic Sea Ice

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Abstract

[1] A global ice-ocean model shows increasing Atlantic water (AW) inflow at the Iceland-Scotland Ridge (ISR) during 1953–2002. As a result, the Greenland-Iceland-Norwegian (GIN) Sea is gaining more heat and salt from the North Atlantic Ocean, while the latter is being freshened mainly by exporting more salt to the GIN Sea. The exchanges of volume, heat, and freshwater at the Greenland-Scotland Ridge (GSR) are strongly correlated with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and their positive trend is closely linked to the NAO elevation in recent decades. The model confirms observations of decreasing dense water outflow at the Faroe-Scotland Passage since the 1950s. However, the simulated dense water outflow shows an increase at Denmark Strait, at the Iceland-Faroe Ridge, and at the GSR as a whole, owing to an increase in AW inflow that may cause an increase in AW recirculation and deep water production in the GIN Sea. The increase of the ISR heat inflow since 1965 contributes to continued thinning of the arctic sea ice since 1966. The influence of the heat inflow on arctic sea ice lags 2–3 years, which suppresses ice production even when the NAO temporarily shifts to a negative mode. Because of this delay, the decline of arctic sea ice is likely to continue if the inflow continues to increase and if the NAO does not shift to a sustained negative mode.

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