The contribution of the Greenland and Barents seas to the deep water of the Arctic Ocean


  • James H. Swift,

  • Taro Takahashi,

  • Hugh D. Livingston


The deep waters of the Arctic Ocean are traditionally held to be fed by an influx of Norwegian Sea Deep Water (NSDW) via the northward flowing West Spitsbergen Current. Discrete sample and CTD observations obtained from the Greenland-Spitsbergen Passage in August 1981 during the Transient Tracers in the Ocean (TTO) North Atlantic expedition showed a ≈ 100-m-thick layer of modified Greenland Sea Deep Water (GSDW: colder and fresher than NSDW) at 2500 m, spreading northward along the bottom of a deep, unimpeded channel, underneath the NSDW. Since the available data indicate that Arctic Ocean Deep Water (AODW) has a higher salinity than NSDW, mixing of NSDW and GSDW can not produce AODW. Therefore, other sources, such as the peripheral arctic shelf seas, must contribute dense saline water to the Arctic Ocean. Concentrations of 137Cs and 90Sr observed in AODW are greater than those observed in GSDW and NSDW. The concentrations of these radionuclides on the Barents Sea shelf are sufficiently high and in the correct relative proportions to support this proposition.