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No inter-gyre pathway for sea-surface temperature anomalies in the North Atlantic
Foukal, N.P.; Lozier, M.S. (2016). No inter-gyre pathway for sea-surface temperature anomalies in the North Atlantic. Nature Comm. 7(11333): 6 pp. http://hdl.handle.net/10.1038/ncomms11333
In: Nature Communications. Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2041-1723; e-ISSN 2041-1723, meer
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  • Foukal, N.P.
  • Lozier, M.S.

Abstract
    Recent Lagrangian analyses of surface drifters have questioned the existence of a surface current connecting the Gulf Stream (GS) to the subpolar gyre (SPG) and have cast doubt on the mechanism underlying an apparent pathway for sea-surface temperature (SST) anomalies between the two regions. Here we use modelled Lagrangian trajectories to determine the fate of surface GS water and satellite SST data to analyse pathways of GS SST anomalies. Our results show that only a small fraction of the surface GS water reaches the SPG, the water that does so mainly travels below the surface mixed layer, and GS SST anomalies do not propagate into the SPG on interannual timescales. Instead, the inter-gyre heat transport as part of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation must be accomplished via subsurface pathways. We conclude that the SST in the SPG cannot be predicted by tracking SST anomalies along the GS.

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