Reversal of the 1960s to 1990s freshening trend in the northeast North Atlantic and Nordic Seas

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Abstract

[1] Hydrographic time series in the northeast North Atlantic and Nordic Seas show that the freshening trend of the 1960s–1990s has completely reversed in the upper ocean. Since the 1990s temperature and salinity have rapidly increased in the Atlantic Inflow from the eastern subpolar gyre to the Fram Strait. In 2003–2006 salinity values reached the previous maximum last observed around 1960, and temperature values exceeded records. The mean properties of the Atlantic Inflow decrease northwards, but variations seen in the eastern subpolar gyre at 57°N persist with the same amplitude and pattern along the pathways to Fram Strait. Time series correlations and extreme events suggest a time lag of 3–4 years over that distance. This estimate allows predictions to be made; the temperature of Atlantic water in the Fram Strait may start to decline in 2007 or 2008, salinity a year later, but both will remain high at least until 2010.

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