The North Icelandic Jet and its relationship to the North Icelandic Irminger Current Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Shipboard hydrographic and velocity sections are used to quantify aspects of the North Icelandic Jet (NIJ), which transports dense overflow water to Denmark Strait, and the North Icelandic Irminger Current (NIIC), which imports Atlantic water to the Iceland Sea. The mean transports of the two currents are comparable, in line with previous notions that there is a local overturning cell in the Iceland Sea that transforms the Atlantic water to dense overflow water. As the NIJ and NIIC flow along the north side of Iceland, they appear to share a common front when the bottom topography steers them close together, but even when they are separate there is a poleward flow inshore of the NIJ. The interannual variability in salinity of the inflowing NIIC is in phase with that of the outflowing NIJ. It is suggested, however, that the NIIC signal does not dictate that of the NIJ. Instead, the combination of liquid and solid freshwater flux from the east Greenland boundary can account for the observed net freshening of the NIIC to the NIJ for the densest half of the overturning circulation in the northwest Iceland Sea. This implies that the remaining overturning must occur in a different geographic area, consistent with earlier model results. The year-to-year variability in salinity of the NIJ can be explained by applying annual anomalies of evaporation minus precipitation over the Iceland Sea to a one-dimensional mixing model. These anomalies vary in phase with the wind stress curl over the North Atlantic subpolar gyre, which previous studies have shown drives the interannual variation in salinity of the inflowing NIIC.

publication date

  • September 1, 2017