EGU24-17710, updated on 11 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Circulation of freshwater over the Labrador shelf and into the interior subpolar North Atlantic

Elodie Duyck and Eleanor Frajka-Williams
Elodie Duyck and Eleanor Frajka-Williams
  • Institute of Oceanography, CEN, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

Increasing freshwater input from Greenland and the Arctic could potentially affect the stratification of the water column in the Labrador Sea, and weaken deep convection. While freshwater export from the West Greenland shelf to the interior Labrador Sea is well-documented, little to no exchange is believed to take place off the Labrador Shelf.
In this study, we use drifters deployed on the Greenland and Labrador shelves since 2019 to deepen our understanding of the Labrador shelf surface circulation and cross-shelf exchanges. Trajectories confirm that fresh surface waters from Baffin Bay, Hudson Bay, and the West Greenland Current join to form the Labrador Current with two distinct velocity cores: one at the shelf break and a second inshore coastal core. The recent drifter observations provide further detail about the shelf circulation including topographically-steered exchanges between the main core and the coastal core of the Labrador Current, and confirm the absence of direct connection between Baffin and Hudson Bays, and the interior Labrador Sea. Instead, substantial export takes place between Flemish Cap and the tail of the Grand Banks, with the export location dependent on upstream circulation.
Freshwater originating from the Baffin and Hudson Bays, and the west Greenland ice sheet, is unlikely to directly impact the Labrador Sea deep convection region. Their mixing and diluting along this longer pathway complicate their potential influence on deep convection in the Subpolar North Atlantic.

How to cite: Duyck, E. and Frajka-Williams, E.: Circulation of freshwater over the Labrador shelf and into the interior subpolar North Atlantic, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-17710,, 2024.