Poleward Shift in Ventilation of the North Atlantic Subtropical Underwater Academic Article uri icon


  • We report the findings that the sea surface salinity maximum (SSS-max) in the North Atlantic has poleward expanded in recent decades and that the expansion is a main driver of the decadal changes in subtropical underwater (STUW). We present observational evidence that the STUW ventilation zone (marked by the location of the 36.7 isohaline) has been displaced northward by1.2 ± 0.36° latitude for the 34 year (1979–2012) period. As a result of the redistribution of the SSS-max water, the ventilation zone has shifted northward and expanded westward into the Sargasso Sea. The ventilation rate of STUW has increased, which is attributed to the increased lateral induction of the sloping mixed layer. STUW has become broader, deeper, and saltier, and the changes are most pronounced on the northern and western edges of the high-saline core.

publication date

  • January 16, 2018