Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans

Variability of the Denmark Strait overflow: Moored time series from 1996–2011


Corresponding author: K. Jochumsen, Institut für Meereskunde, Universität Hamburg, Bundesstr. 53, DE-20146 Hamburg, Germany. (


[1] The Denmark Strait overflow provides about half of the total dense water overflow from the Nordic Seas into the North Atlantic Ocean. The velocity of the overflow has been monitored in the Strait with two moored Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers since 1996 with several interruptions due to mooring losses or instrument failure. So far, overflow transports were only calculated when data from both moorings were available. In this work, we introduce a linear model to fill gaps in the time series when data from only one instrument is available. The mean overflow transport is 3.4 Sv and exhibits a variance of 2.0 Sv2. No significant trend was detected in the time series. The highest variability in the transport is associated with the passage of mesoscale eddies with time scales of 2–10 days (associated with a variance of 1.5 Sv2). Seasonal variability is weak and explains less than 5% of the variance in all time series, which is in contrast to the strong seasonal cycle found in high resolution model simulations. Interannual variability is on the order of 10% of the mean. A relation to atmospheric forcing such as the local wind stress curl, as well as to larger scale phenomena, e.g. the North Atlantic Oscillation, is not detected. Since 2005 data from moored temperature, conductivity and pressure recorders have been available as well, monitoring the hydrographic variability at the bottom of Denmark Strait. In recent years the temperature time series of the Denmark Strait overflow revealed a cooling, while the salinity stayed nearly constant.