Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2014. This article is posted here by permission of American Meteorological Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Physical Oceanography 44 (2014): 229–245, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-12-0218.1.
Data from a mooring deployed at the edge of the East Greenland shelf south of Denmark Strait from September 2007 to October 2008 are analyzed to investigate the processes by which dense water is transferred off the shelf. It is found that water denser than 27.7 kg m−3—as dense as water previously attributed to the adjacent East Greenland Spill Jet—resides near the bottom of the shelf for most of the year with no discernible seasonality. The mean velocity in the central part of the water column is directed along the isobaths, while the deep flow is bottom intensified and veers offshore. Two mechanisms for driving dense spilling events are investigated, one due to offshore forcing and the other associated with wind forcing. Denmark Strait cyclones propagating southward along the continental slope are shown to drive off-shelf flow at their leading edges and are responsible for much of the triggering of individual spilling events. Northerly barrier winds also force spilling. Local winds generate an Ekman downwelling cell. Nonlocal winds also excite spilling, which is hypothesized to be the result of southward-propagating coastally trapped waves, although definitive confirmation is still required. The combined effect of the eddies and barrier winds results in the strongest spilling events, while in the absence of winds a train of eddies causes enhanced spilling.
The authors wish to thank Paula Fratantoni, Frank Bahr, and Dan Torres for processing the mooring data. The mooring array was capably deployed by the crew of the R/V Arni Fridriksson and recovered by the crew of the R/V Knorr. We thank Hedinn Valdimarsson for his assistance in the field work. Ken Brink provided valuable insights regarding the dynamics of shelf waves. Funding for the study was provided by National Science Foundation Grant OCE-0722694, the Arctic Research Initiative of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. We also wish to thank the Natural Environment Research Council for Ph.D. studentship funding, and the University of East Anglia’s Roberts Fund and Royal Meteorological Society for supporting travel for collaboration.
Meridional overturning circulation
Atm/Ocean Structure/ Phenomena
Physical Meteorology and Climatology
Woods Hole Open Access Server