Forcing of oceanic heat anomalies by air-sea interactions in the Nordic Seas area

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Abstract

[1] Hydrographic data and atmospheric reanalysis from 1982 to 2005 are used to show a strong link of the Atlantic water temperature (AWT) anomalies observed in the transition zone between the Norwegian Atlantic current and the West Spitsbergen current in summer to the surface heat flux (SHF) anomalies observed over the Barents Sea open water in the preceding late winter. A mechanism proposed for this link is formation of ocean temperature anomalies in a deep mixed layer and their subsequent westward export by a branch of Atlantic water recirculating in the western Barents Sea. The SHF anomalies over the Barents Sea are due to advection of temperature and humidity by anomalous winds across the Arctic ice edge and do not strongly depend on the North Atlantic oscillation (NAO). Correlations of up to about 0.9 between the AWT anomalies and indices of atmospheric variability over the Barents Sea open prospects for seasonal AWT predictability. It is also shown that the wind-forcing responsible for positive AWT anomalies is involved in a cyclonic perturbation of the atmospheric circulation over the Nordic Seas. This perturbation generates, through influence on the sea ice distribution, a lobe of SHF anomalies in the marginal ice zone (MIZ) on the eastern (Barents Sea) and western (Greenland Sea) sides of the Nordic Seas which has the opposite sign to the open water lobe. In contrast to the Barents Sea MIZ, the diabatic heating of the atmosphere by upward SHF anomalies in the Greenland Sea MIZ competes with cold advection.

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