Structure and Variability of the Shelfbreak East Greenland Current North of Denmark Strait Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • AbstractData from a mooring array deployed north of Denmark Strait from September 2011 to August 2012 are used to investigate the structure and variability of the shelfbreak East Greenland Current (EGC). The shelfbreak EGC is a surface-intensified current situated just offshore of the east Greenland shelf break flowing southward through Denmark Strait. This study identified two dominant spatial modes of variability within the current: a pulsing mode and a meandering mode, both of which were most pronounced in fall and winter. A particularly energetic event in November 2011 was related to a reversal of the current for nearly a month. In addition to the seasonal signal, the current was associated with periods of enhanced eddy kinetic energy and increased variability on shorter time scales. The data indicate that the current is, for the most part, barotropically stable but subject to baroclinic instability from September to March. By contrast, in summer the current is mainly confined to the shelf break with decreased eddy kinetic energy and minimal baroclinic conversion. No other region of the Nordic Seas displays higher levels of eddy kinetic energy than the shelfbreak EGC north of Denmark Strait during fall. This appears to be due to the large velocity variability on mesoscale time scales generated by the instabilities. The mesoscale variability documented here may be a source of the variability observed at the Denmark Strait sill.

publication date

  • October 2017