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Multidecadal climate variability in the Greenland Sea and surrounding regions: A coupled model simulation

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Abstract

Pronounced oscillations of ocean temperature and salinity occur in the Greenland Sea in a 2000 year integration of a coupled ocean-atmosphere model. The oscillations, involving both the surface and subsurface ocean layers, have a timescale of approximately 40–80 years, and are associated with fluctuations in the intensity of the East Greenland Current. The Greenland Sea temperature and salinity variations are preceded by large-scale changes in near-surface salinity in the Arctic, which appear to propagate out of the Arctic through the East Greenland Current. These anomalies then propagate around the subpolar gyre into the Labrador Sea and the central North Atlantic. These oscillations are coherent with previously identified multi-decadal fluctuations in the intensity of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation. The oscillations in the Greenland Sea are related to atmospheric variability. Negative (cold) anomalies of surface air temperature are associated with negative (cold) sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the Greenland Sea, with amplitudes up to 2°C near Greenland declining to several tenths of a degree C over northwestern Europe. The cold SST anomalies and intensified East Greenland Current are also associated with enhanced northerly winds over the Greenland Sea.

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