High-Frequency Variability in the Circulation and Hydrography of the Denmark Strait Overflow from a High-Resolution Numerical Model Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractInitial results are presented from a yearlong, high-resolution (~2 km) numerical simulation covering the east Greenland shelf and the Iceland and Irminger Seas. The model hydrography and circulation in the vicinity of Denmark Strait show good agreement with available observational datasets. This study focuses on the variability of the Denmark Strait overflow (DSO) by detecting and characterizing boluses and pulses, which are the two dominant mesoscale features in the strait. The authors estimate that the yearly mean southward volume flux of the DSO is about 30% greater in the presence of boluses and pulses. On average, boluses (pulses) are 57.1 (27.5) h long, occur every 3.2 (5.5) days, and are more frequent during the summer (winter). Boluses (pulses) increase (decrease) the overflow cross-sectional area, and temperatures around the overflow interface are colder (warmer) by about 2.6°C (1.8°C). The lateral extent of the boluses is much greater than that of the pulses. In both cases the along-strait equatorward flow of dense water is enhanced but more so for pulses. The sea surface height (SSH) rises by 4–10 cm during boluses and by up to 5 cm during pulses. The SSH anomaly contours form a bowl (dome) during boluses (pulses), and the two features cross the strait with a slightly different orientation. The cross streamflow changes direction; boluses (pulses) are associated with veering (backing) of the horizontal current. The model indicates that boluses and pulses play a major role in controlling the variability of the DSO transport into the Irminger Sea.

publication date

  • December 2017