Sea-ice retreat suggests re-organization of water mass transformation in the Nordic and Barents Seas

G. W. K. Moore, K. Våge, I. A. Renfrew, R. S. Pickart

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Abstract

Water mass transformation in the Nordic and Barents Seas, triggered by air-sea heat fluxes, is an integral component of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). These regions are undergoing rapid warming, associated with a retreat in ice cover. Here we present an analysis covering 1950−2020 of the spatiotemporal variability of the air-sea heat fluxes along the region’s boundary currents, where water mass transformation impacts are large. We find there is an increase in the air-sea heat fluxes along these currents that is a function of the currents’ orientation relative to the axis of sea-ice change suggesting enhanced water mass transformation is occurring. Previous work has shown a reduction in heat fluxes in the interior of the Nordic Seas. As a result, a reorganization seems to be underway in where water mass transformation occurs, that needs to be considered when ascertaining how the AMOC will respond to a warming climate.
Original languageEnglish
Article number67
JournalNature Communications
Volume13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2022

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