Articles | Volume 9, issue 6
Research article
14 Nov 2013
Research article |  | 14 Nov 2013

Frontal structures in the West Spitsbergen Current margins

W. Walczowski

Abstract. The structures of the hydrographic fronts separating the Atlantic-origin waters from ambient waters in the northern Nordic Seas are discussed. Flows of the western and eastern branches of the West Spitsbergen Current create the Atlantic domain borders and maintain these fronts. This work is based on previous research and on investigations carried out in the project DAMOCLES (Developing Arctic Modelling and Observational Capabilities for Long-term Environmental Studies). Most of the observational data were collected during the R/V Oceania cruises. The main focus of the paper is the western border of the Atlantic domain – the Arctic Front, alongfrontal and transfrontal transports, and the front instability and variability. The alongfrontal baroclinic jet streams were described as a significant source of the Atlantic Water and heat in the Nordic Seas. The baroclinic instability and advection of baroclinic eddies which occurs due to this instability were found to be the main transfrontal transport processes. Most of the Atlantic Water transported by the western branch recirculates west and southward. The eastern branch of the West Spitsbergen Current provides most of the Atlantic Water entering the Arctic Ocean. Both processes are very important for the Arctic and global thermohaline circulation.