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Monday, June 22, 2009

Tor Eldevik et al., Nature Geosci., 2009, Observed sources and variability of Nordic seas overflow

Nature Geoscience, 2, 406–410, published online 3 May 2009; doi:10.1038/ngeo518

Observed sources and variability of Nordic seas overflow

Tor Eldevik1,2,*, Jan Even Ø. Nilsen1,2, Doroteaciro Iovino1,2, K. Anders Olsson2,3, Anne Britt Sandø1,2 and Helge Drange1,2,4


The overflows from the Nordic seas maintain the deep branch of the North Atlantic Ocean's thermohaline circulation1, 2, an important part of the global climate system3, 4. However, the source of these overflows, and of overflow variability, is debated: proposals include open-ocean convection, dense-water production on the Arctic shelves and the gradual transformation of Atlantic water as it circulates the periphery of the Nordic seas and the Arctic Ocean2, 5, 6. Here we analyse time series of observed ocean temperature and salinity between 1950 and 2005. We find that the progression of thermohaline anomalies on interannual to decadal timescales does not support a systematic response of the overflow properties to convective mixing in the Greenland Sea as has been suggested7, 8. Instead, anomalies in temperature and salinity that leave the northern seas at the Denmark Strait have travelled along the rim of the Nordic seas from inflow to overflow. Furthermore, the Faroe–Shetland Channel reflects the variability of an overturning loop within the Norwegian Sea that has not been observed previously. We thus conclude that the Atlantic water circulating in the Nordic seas is the main source for change in the overflow waters.
  1. G. C. Rieber Climate Institute, Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, Thormøhlensgate 47, N-5006 Bergen, Norway
  2. Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Allégaten 55, N-5007 Bergen, Norway
  3. Department of Chemistry, Göteborg University, SE-412 96 Göteborg, Sweden
  4. Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen, Allégaten 70, N-5007 Bergen, Norway

*Correspondence, e-mail:

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