EGU24-9171, updated on 08 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Observing the volume and property changes of the Water Masses in the Nordic Seas

Lucas Almeida, Nicolas Kolodziejczyk, and Camille Lique
Lucas Almeida et al.
  • UBO, LOPS, France (

The Nordic Seas, where cold and fresh Arctic waters mix with warmer and saltier North Atlantic waters, play a crucial role in the ocean circulation system. This region is also the place of intense water mass transformations, with a conversion of lighter waters into denser waters that contribute to the lower limb of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. In recent years, the region has experienced Atlantification, characterized by an increased contribution of Atlantic waters, leading to a warming in the upper layers. This study aims to investigate the impact of Atlantification on the properties of water masses in the Nordic Seas. We have used ISAS, an optimal interpolation from ARGO data with a monthly time series spanning 2002 to 2020, the ANDRO dataset for computing geostrophic velocities from ARGO float drift, and the ERA5 dataset for air-sea flux exchanges. The Nordic Seas are divided into four basins: the Greenland Sea (GS), the Icelandic Plateau (IP) in the west, and the Lofoten Basin and Norwegian Basin in the east. The water column is divided into three water masses based on potential density (𝞼0): surface (𝞼0 < 27.8 kg m-3), intermediate (27.8 < 𝞼0 < 28.0 kg m-3), and deeper water mass (28.0 < 𝞼0 < 28.07 kg m-3). Based on the observational datasets, we estimate the variations of the volume of each water mass, the transport within and outside the basins, and the surface-forced Water Mass Transformation (WMT). The eastern basins are experiencing surface warming, particularly after 2013, accompanied by an increase in the volume of the same water mass. Moreover, the volume of intermediate water masses is decreasing. In the Norwegian Basin, surface-forced transformations dominate the volume changes, while the Lofoten Basin experiences a significant influence from both surface-forced transformation and the import of warm waters from the south. In the western basins, both the intermediate and deeper water masses are increasing in volume encompassing a larger depth range , with a smaller trend in the Icelandic Plateau. In the Greenland Sea, the WMT are dominating these changes and the region is mostly exporting denser waters. In contrast, in the Icelandic Plateau the intermediate water is mostly explained by differences in the transports, and the deeper water masses by the surface transformation. We conclude that the changes observed in the Nordic Seas water masses result from a combination of local changes driven by air-sea fluxes and the advection of warmer waters. Monitoring the relative contributions of remote and local processes involved in WMT will help us to better understand and anticipate the ongoing and future shifts in the Nordic Seas conditions. 

How to cite: Almeida, L., Kolodziejczyk, N., and Lique, C.: Observing the volume and property changes of the Water Masses in the Nordic Seas, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-9171,, 2024.