Extreme Variability in Irminger Sea Winter Heat Loss Revealed by Ocean Observatories Initiative Mooring and the ERA5 Reanalysis Academic Article uri icon


  • Ground?breaking measurements from the ocean observatories initiative Irminger Sea surface mooring (60°N, 39°30?W) are presented that provide the first in situ characterization of multiwinter surface heat exchange at a high latitude North Atlantic site. They reveal strong variability (December 2014 net heat loss nearly 50% greater than December 2015) due primarily to variations in frequency of intense short timescale (1–3 days) forcing. Combining the observations with the new high resolution European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts Reanalysis 5 (ERA5) atmospheric reanalysis, the main source of multiwinter variability is shown to be changes in the frequency of Greenland tip jets (present on 15 days in December 2014 and 3 days in December 2015) that can result in hourly mean heat loss exceeding 800 W/m2. Furthermore, a new picture for atmospheric mode influence on Irminger Sea heat loss is developed whereby strongly positive North Atlantic Oscillation conditions favor increased losses only when not outweighed by the East Atlantic Pattern.

publication date

  • January 16, 2019