Articles | Volume 19, issue 3
Research article
02 Jun 2023
Research article |  | 02 Jun 2023

Mixing and air–sea buoyancy fluxes set the time-mean overturning circulation in the subpolar North Atlantic and Nordic Seas

Dafydd Gwyn Evans, N. Penny Holliday, Sheldon Bacon, and Isabela Le Bras

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Cited articles

Beaird, N., Fer, I., Rhines, P., and Eriksen, C.: Dissipation of Turbulent Kinetic Energy Inferred from Seagliders: An Application to the Eastern Nordic Seas Overflows, J. Phys. Oceanogr., 42, 2268–2282,, 2012. a, b
Bower, A., Lozier, S., Biastoch, A., Drouin, K., Foukal, N., Furey, H., Lankhorst, M., Rühs, S., and Zou, S.: Lagrangian Views of the Pathways of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, J. Geophys. Res.-Oceans, 124, 5313–5335,, 2019. a, b, c, d
Brakstad, A., Våge, K., Håvik, L., and Moore, G. W. K.: Water Mass Transformation in the Greenland Sea during the Period 1986–2016, J. Phys. Oceanogr., 49, 121–140,, 2019. a
Brambilla, E., Talley, L. D., and Robbins, P. E.: Subpolar Mode Water in the northeastern Atlantic: 2. Origin and transformation, J. Geophys. Res.-Oceans, 113,, 2008. a
Brüggemann, N. and Katsman, C. A.: Dynamics of Downwelling in an Eddying Marginal Sea: Contrasting the Eulerian and the Isopycnal Perspective, J. Phys. Oceanogr., 49, 3017–3035,, 2019. a, b, c
Short summary
This study investigates the processes that form dense water in the high latitudes of the North Atlantic to determine how they affect the overturning circulation in the Atlantic. We show for the first time that turbulent mixing is an important driver in the formation of dense water, along with the loss of heat from the ocean to the atmosphere. We point out that the simulation of turbulent mixing in ocean–climate models must improve to better predict the ocean's response to climate change.