Recirculation of Atlantic Water in the western Barents Sea

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Abstract

[1] In this article, the Atlantic inflow with the North Cape Current to the Barents Sea, and potential recirculation of this water in the Bear Island Trough is investigated. This is resolved by combining continuous current meter and repeated hydrographic section data in the Barents Sea Opening. The estimated annual mean net fluxes, when excluding the contribution from the Norwegian Coastal Current, are 1.1 Sv and 39 TW (estimated relative to a reference temperature of 0°C). The estimated heat flux associated with the outflow in the Bear Island Trough is relatively large (−12 TW). Long-term current meter records do not show a close relationship between variations in the inflow and the outflow. One-year low-pass filtered variations in temperature and salinity of the outflowing waters in the Bear Island Trough are positively correlated with variations of the inflowing Atlantic Water with a lag of about seven months. On the basis of a simple mixing model, the outflow water consists of about 80% Atlantic Water that is additionally cooled by 2.0–2.5°C by heat loss to the atmosphere. By considering the relative weak mean currents in this region, it can be inferred that the fraction of the Atlantic Water that recirculates follows a relatively short pathway in the Bear Island Trough before returning to the Norwegian Sea.

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