Water column structure and statistics of Denmark Strait Overflow Water cyclones

Wilken-Jon.von.Appen [ at ] awi.de


Data from seven moorings deployed across the East Greenland shelfbreak and slope 280 km downstream of Denmark Strait are used to investigate the characteristics and dynamics of Denmark Strait Overflow Water (DSOW) cyclones. On average, a cyclone passes the mooring array every other day near the 900 m isobath, dominating the variability of the boundary current system. There is considerable variation in both the frequency and location of the cyclones on the slope, but no apparent seasonality. Using the year-long data set from September 2007 to October 2008, we construct a composite DSOW cyclone that reveals the average scales of the features. The composite cyclone consists of a lens of dense overflow water on the bottom, up to 300 m thick, with cyclonic flow above the lens. The azimuthal flow is intensified in the middle and upper part of the water column and has the shape of a Gaussian eddy with a peak depth-mean speed of 0.22 m/s at a radius of 7.8 km. The lens is advected by the mean flow of 0.27 m/s and self propagates at 0.45 m/s, consistent with the topographic Rossby wave speed and the Nof speed. The total translation velocity along the East Greenland slope is 0.72 m/s. The self-propagation speed exceeds the cyclonic swirl speed, indicating that the azimuthal flow cannot kinematically trap fluid in the water column above the lens. This implies that the dense water anomaly and the cyclonic swirl velocity are dynamically linked, in line with previous theory. Satellite sea surface temperature (SST) data are investigated to study the surface expression of the cyclones. Disturbances to the SST field are found to propagate less quickly than the in-situ DSOW cyclones, raising the possibility that the propagation of the SST signatures is not directly associated with the cyclones.

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DOI 10.1016/j.dsr.2013.10.007

Cite as
von Appen, W. J. , Pickart, R. S. , Brink, K. H. and Haine, T. W. (2014): Water column structure and statistics of Denmark Strait Overflow Water cyclones , Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 84 , pp. 110-126 . doi: 10.1016/j.dsr.2013.10.007


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