Sources and distribution of fresh water in the East Greenland Current

Jones, EP, Anderson LG, Jutterstrom S, Swift JH.  2008.  Sources and distribution of fresh water in the East Greenland Current. Progress in Oceanography. 78:37-44.

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Alkalinity, arctic-ocean, atlantic, circulation, east greenland current, fram strait, freshwater budget, halocline, nordic seas, pacific water, polynya, sea-ice, surface, Tracers


Fresh water flowing from the Arctic Ocean via the East Greenland Current influences deep water formation in the Nordic Seas as well as the salinity of the surface and deep waters flowing from there. This fresh water has three sources: Pacific water (relatively fresh cf. Atlantic water), river runoff, and sea ice meltwater. To determine the relative amounts of the three sources of fresh water, in May 2002 we collected water samples across the East Greenland Current in sections from 81.5 degrees N to the Irminger Sea south of Denmark Strait. We used nitrate-phosphate relationships to distinguish Pacific waters from Atlantic waters, salinity to obtain the sum of sea ice melt water and river runoff water, and total alkalinity to distinguish the latter. River runoff contributed the largest part of the total fresh water component, in some regions with some inventories exceeding 12 m. Pacific fresh water (Pacific source water S similar to 32 cf Atlantic source water S similar to 34.9) typically provided about 1/3 of the river runoff contribution. Sea ice meltwater was very nearly non-existent in the surface waters of all sections, likely at least in part as a result of the samples being collected before the onset of the melt season. The fresh water from the Arctic Ocean was strongly confined to near the Greenland coast. We thus conjecture that the main source of fresh water from the Arctic Ocean most strongly impacting deep convection in the Nordic Seas would be sea ice as opposed to fresh water in the liquid phase, i.e., river runoff, Pacific fresh water, and sea ice meltwater. Crown Copyright (C) 2008 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.