Atlantic-Origin Overflow Water in the East Greenland Current
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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- Geophysical Institute 
Dense water masses transported southward along the east coast of Greenland in the East Greenland Current (EGC) form the largest contribution to the Denmark Strait Overflow. When exiting Denmark Strait these dense water masses sink to depth and feed the deep circulation in the North Atlantic. Based on one year of mooring observations upstream of Denmark Strait and historical hydrographic profiles between Fram Strait and Denmark Strait, we find that a large part (75%) of the overflow water ( ≥ 27.8 kg m−3) transported by the EGC is of Atlantic origin (potential temperature θ > 0°C). The along-stream changes in temperature of the Atlantic-origin Water are moderate north of 69°N at the northern end of Blosseville basin, but southward from this point the temperature decreases more rapidly. We hypothesize that this enhanced modification is related to the bifurcation of the EGC taking place close to 69°N into the shelfbreak EGC and the separated EGC. This is associated with enhanced eddy activity and strong water mass modification reducing the intermediate temperature and salinity maxima of the Atlantic-origin Water. During periods with a large (small) degree of modification the separated current is strong (weak). Output from a high-resolution numerical model supports our hypothesis and reveals that large eddy activity is associated with an offshore shift of the surface freshwater layer that characterizes the Greenland shelf. The intensity of the eddy activity regulates the density and the hydrographic properties of the Denmark Strait Overflow Water transported by the EGC system.