Estimation of ice melt, freshwater budget, and their multi-decadal trends in the Baffin Bay and Labrador Sea

Mensah, Vigan; Fujita, Koji; Howell, Stephen; Ikeda, Miho; Komatsu, Mizuki; Ohshima, Kay I.

The Labrador Sea and contiguous Baffin Bay play an important role in the formation of the upper layer of the North Atlantic Deep Water, an essential component of the Atlantic Meridional Ocean Circulation. The hydrography of these two seas is strongly influenced by the melting of sea-ice and glacier-ice, which has likely been affected by long-term climate changes. In this study, we use historical data of ocean temperature and salinity from 1950 to 2022 to estimate the summer freshwater volume (SFV) in Baffin Bay and the Labrador Sea, establish climatologies, and assess the impact of multi-decadal climate change. The SFV climatology (1956 km 3) and the summer freshwater budget (2286 km 3) estimated from various components are in good agreement. Sea ice and glacial melt account for 37 % and 26 % of the freshwater budget, respectively. SFV climatologies before and after 1995 reveal an increase in Baffin Bay (+226 km 3) because of enhanced glacier melting, and a decline (-112 km 3) in the Labrador Sea because of recent sea ice volume decreases. The time series of Labrador Sea SFV and total freshwater content are uncorrelated at the multi-decadal scale possibly because the influx of freshwater from the Beaufort Sea dominates the long-term variability.

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Mensah, Vigan / Fujita, Koji / Howell, Stephen / et al: Estimation of ice melt, freshwater budget, and their multi-decadal trends in the Baffin Bay and Labrador Sea. 2023. Copernicus Publications.

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