Articles | Volume 5, issue 3
14 Jul 2009
 | 14 Jul 2009

Role of cabbeling in water densification in the Greenland Basin

Y. Kasajima and T. Johannessen

Abstract. The effects of cabbeling mixing on water mass modification in the Greenland Sea were explored by hydrographic observations across the Greenland Basin in summer 2006. The neutral surface was chosen as a reference frame, and the strength of cabbeling mixing was quantified by the dianeutral velocity magnitude. Active cabbeling spots were detected with the criterion of the velocity magnitude >1 m/day, and four active cabbeling areas were identified; the west of Bear Island (SB), the Arctic Frontal Zone (AFZ), the central Greenland Sea (CG) and the western Greenland Sea (WG). The most vigorous cabbeling mixing was found at SB, where warm North Atlantic Water (NAW) mixed with cold water from the Barents Sea, inducing a maximum velocity of 7.5 m/day and a maximum density gain of 4.7×10−3 kg/m3. At AFZ and CG, the mixing took place between NAW, modified NAW and Arctic Intermediate Water (AIW), and the density gain at these fronts were 1.5×10−3 kg/m3 (AFZ) and 1.3×10−3 kg/m3 (CG). In the western Greenland Sea, the active cabbeling spots were widely separated and mixing appeared to be rather weak, with a maximum velocity of 2.5 m/day. The mixing source waters at WG were modified NAW, AIW and even denser water, and the density gain in this area was 0.4×10−3 kg/m3. The deepest mixing produced water whose density is equivalent to that of the dense water of the basin, indicating that cabbeling in the western Greenland Sea contributed directly to basin-scale water densification. The water mass modification rate was the highest at AFZ (about 8.0 Sv), suggesting that cabbeling may play an important role in water transformation in the Greenland Basin.