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Title: Impacts of basin-scale forcing on the circulation of the Faroe-Shetland Channel
Author: Walicka, Kamila
ISNI:       0000 0004 7659 0617
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2019
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The investigation of the role of basin-scale forcing on the circulation of the Faroe-Shetland Channel (FSC) is important to further understanding of the inter-annual variability of the Atlantic water (AW) fluxes in this region. The FSC plays a key role in the transfer of warm and saline AW towards the Nordic Seas that is an integral part of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation which is projected to decline over the twenty-first century and might reduce the oceanic heat and salt transports towards the Arctic. So far little attention has been paid to the mechanisms driving the AW fluxes in the FSC, reliable estimates of AW temperature and salt transports time series are lacking. This study presents a new time series of the AW fluxes based on the combination of hydrography and altimetry data. The mechanisms involved in driving the variability of AW fluxes are considered based on observational data and the output from a high-resolution ocean model (VIKING20). The hydrographic observations from 1993 to 2015 show an increase in temperature and salinity of AW. However, there is no evidence of trends in AW volume, temperature or salt transports during the observed period. This analysis confirms that the amount of heat and salt transported through the FSC is dominated by the volume transport. Moreover, this study identifies a bias in the standard deviation of the geostrophic velocity at a depth associated with referencing the geostrophic calculations to the sea surface geostrophic velocity from satellite altimetry. This finding does not strongly influence the AW volume transports in the AW layer, however, it has important implications for estimates of the geostrophic volume transport at depth. This study shows that the Ekman driven up/downwelling and the differential Ekman pumping mechanisms driven by the local wind forcing may influence sea surface height (SSH) and the displacement of isopycnals in the channel, leading to AW volume transport variabilit However, due to the large associated error bars on the surface and subsurface parameters, there is no clear evidence that these mechanisms are significantly responsible for the AW volume transport variability in the FSC. Lagrangian trajectories show evidence of two pathways from the North Atlantic to the FSC that may explain AW variability in the FSC: one pathway involves the flow of warm and saline waters from the Rockall Trough that corresponds to high temperatures and low AW volume transport in the channel, and the other pathway involves the flow of relatively cooler and less saline waters from the Iceland Basin that is linked to low temperatures and stronger volume transport in the FSC. Moreover, we show that the first (second) pathway is associated with the negative (positive) phases of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the ocean gyre contraction (expansion). The changes of the NAO index phases explain 26 % of the AW volume transport variance in the FSC. Another important mechanism that leads to stronger (weaker) AW volume transport is stronger (weaker) pressure gradient across the Greenland-Scotland Ridge, reflected by the SSH changes. This mechanism explains 29 % of AW volume transport variance in the FSC.
Supervisor: Cunningham, Stuart ; Gary, Stefan ; Berx, Bee Sponsor: Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) ; Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Oceanography ; Hydrography ; Faroe-Shetland Channel ; North Atlantic Ocean ; Subpolar gyres ; Subtropical gyres