Volume, heat and salt transport by the West Spitsbergen Current

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Piechura, Jan ; Beszczynska-Möller, Agnieszka ; Osinski, Robert (2001)

During the summer of 2000 (June-July) 14 CTD and ADCP transects perpendicular to the West Spitsbergen Current and along the western border of the Barents Sea were made. The measurements covered the area between 69° 43’and 80° N and 01° and 20° E. The main purpose was to follow changes in volume, heat and salt content of Atlantic Water (AW) on its way north. The strongest and most stable flow of AW was located along the continental slope where northward flowing currents exceeding 40 cm/sec were measured. A few weaker northward branches were also found to the west of the slope. South-directed currents were recorded between them and eddy-like mesoscale structures were commonly observed. Measured by vessel-mounted acoustic Doppler current profiler (VM-ADCP), the net northward transport of AW volume in the upper 136 m layer decreased from nearly 6 Sv at the southernmost transect to below 1 Sv at a latitude of 78° 50’N. Similarly, heat transport drops from about 173 TW to about 9 TW and relative salt transport (over 34.92 psu) from 980 × 103 kg/sec to 14 × 103 kg/sec. Transport in the southern direction prevails at the transect located between 79° 07’and 79° 30’N. The calculated baroclinic geostrophic transport of AW volume, heat and salt in the upper 1000 m layer behaves similarly. East-directed transport dominates at the Barents Sea boundary while westward flow prevails on the western side of the West Spitsbergen Current.
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