EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Cross-shelf exchanges between the East Greenland shelf and interior seas 

Elodie Duyck and Femke De Jong
Elodie Duyck and Femke De Jong
  • Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), Department of Ocean Systems, Texel, The Netherlands

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is predicted to weaken in the 21st century as a result of climate change. One of the proposed drivers for such a weakening is the dampening of deep convection in the Subpolar North Atlantic following an increase in freshwater fluxes from the Greenland ice sheet. However, the fresh waters that flow from Greenland and the Arctic to the Subpolar North Atlantic are primarily found over the Greenland shelf, and it is unclear where and how much freshwater is exported from the shelf to the interior seas where deep convection occurs. While the main export of freshwater off the Greenland shelf is likely to occur west of Greenland, the importance of water mass transformation and overturning east of Greenland in the total subpolar AMOC makes it essential to better understand freshwater exchanges between the east Greenland shelf and deep convection regions of the Irminger and Nordic Sea.

We investigate these exchanges using drifter data from five deployments carried out at different latitudes along the east Greenland shelf in 2019, 2020 and 2021, as well as satellite data and an atmospheric reanalysis. We compute Ekman transport (from winds) and geostrophic velocity (from satellite altimetry) at the shelfbreak and find that the Blosseville Basin, just upstream of Denmark Strait, and Cape Farewell, are particularly favorable to cross-shelf exchanges. We further investigate exchange processes in these regions using drifter data. In the Blosseville Basin, drifters are brought off-shelf towards the Iceland Sea and into the interior of the Basin, possibly joining the separated EGC. As they flow downstream, they re-enter the shelf and most are driven towards the coast. This exchange appears to be mainly driven by the shape of the bathymetry. At Cape Farewell, the wind appears to be the main driver, although occasionally an eddy seems to turn drifters away from the shelf. The drifters brought off-shelf at Cape Farewell mostly continue around Eirik Ridge, where they re-enter the West Greenland Current. How much of the freshwater signature is lost between leaving the East Greenland Current and entering the West Greenland Current is not clear and will need further study.

How to cite: Duyck, E. and De Jong, F.: Cross-shelf exchanges between the East Greenland shelf and interior seas , EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-9765,, 2023.