Seasonal Overturning of the Labrador Sea as Observed by Argo Floats Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractArgo floats are used to investigate Labrador Sea overturning and its variability on seasonal time scales. This is the first application of Argo floats to estimate overturning in a deep-water formation region in the North Atlantic. Unlike hydrographic measurements, which are typically confined to the summer season, floats offer the advantage of collecting data in all seasons. Seasonal composite potential density and absolute geostrophic velocity sections across the mouth of the Labrador Sea assembled from float profiles and trajectories at 1000 m are used to calculate the horizontal and overturning circulations. The overturning exhibits a pronounced seasonal cycle; in depth space the overturning doubles throughout the course of the year, and in density space it triples. The largest overturning [1.2 Sv (1 Sv ? 106 m3 s?1) in depth space and 3.9 Sv in density space] occurs in spring and corresponds to the outflow of recently formed Labrador Sea Water. The overturning decreases through summer and reaches a minimum in winter (0.6 Sv in depth space and 1.2 Sv in density space). The robustness of the Argo seasonal overturning is supported by a comparison to an overturning estimate based on hydrographic data from the AR7W line.

publication date

  • October 2017