EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Spreading dynamics of central Labrador and Irminger Sea Waters

Patricia Handmann1, Martin Visbeck1,2, and Arne Biastoch1,2
Patricia Handmann et al.
  • 1Geomar, Physical Oceanography, Kiel, Germany (
  • 2Kiel University, Kiel, Germany

Water mass formation in the Subpolar North Atlantic and successive southward export, connects high latitudes with lower latitudes, as a part of the lower Atlantic meridional overturning (AMOC) limb. The role of regional importance, in particular the respective roles of the Labrador and Irminger Sea, in this process are in debate. 

This study analyses pathways connecting the Labrador and Irminger Sea in detail, using simulated Lagrangian particle trajectories. To give further insight on interconnectivity and flow patterns we used two setups with different velocity fields, a high-resolution ocean model (VIKING20X) and a gridded Argo float displacement climatology. Both setups indicate two distinct pathways with interconnectivity on the order of 20% of the total amount of seeded particles between the Labrador Sea and Irminger Sea. One pathway is following the recirculation in the Labrador Sea along the Greenland shelf break; the other is along the Newfoundland shelf break turning to the north/northwest at the Orphan-Knoll region towards the central Irminger Sea. For the Argo based advective-diffusive particle trajectory integration a 2.5–3.5 year travel time scale was derived between the Labrador and the Irminger Sea, while the experiments with the temporarily varying high-resolution model output revealed significantly shorter spreading times of about 1.5–2 years. While both pathways are represented in either setup, the pathway following the Newfoundland shelf break is populated stronger in the model-based experiments. In general we found that connectivity between the two regions is weaker in the experiments based on the climatological mean velocity output of the model than in those based on the Argo derived fields, first results indicate that this is due to stronger boundary currents and a weaker recirculation in the Labrador Sea.

How to cite: Handmann, P., Visbeck, M., and Biastoch, A.: Spreading dynamics of central Labrador and Irminger Sea Waters, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8602,, 2020.


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