Reduction of Deepwater Formation in the Greenland Sea During the 1980s: Evidence from Tracer Data

Science  01 Mar 1991:
Vol. 251, Issue 4997, pp. 1054-1056
DOI: 10.1126/science.251.4997.1054


Hydrographic observations and measurements of the concentrations of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have suggested that the formation of Greenland Sea Deep Water (GSDW) slowed down considerably during the 1980s. Such a decrease is related to weakened convection in the Greenland Sea and thus could have significant impact on the properties of the waters flowing over the Scotland-Iceland-Greenland ridge system into the deep Atlantic. Study of the variability of GSDW formation is relevant for understanding the impact of the circulation in the European Polar seas on regional and global deep water characteristics. New long-term multitracer observations from the Greenland Sea show that GSDW formation indeed was greatly reduced during the 1980s. A box model of deepwater formation and exchange in the European Polar seas tuned by the tracer data indicates that the reduction rate of GSDW formation was about 80 percent and that the start date of the reduction was between 1978 and 1982.