What is it about?

Global warming has its largest effects in the Arctic where enhanced melting of sea-ice will send increased cold meltwater southwards into the North Atlantic with possible effects on climate in Europe and North America. Here we describe an intermediate source of Atlantic cold fresh water derived from melting of the Odden ice, a variable body of new sea-ice which appeared in the far north Atlantic basin in three periods during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Odden ice formed over deep water in response to freezing winter winds together with enhanced transport of ice from the Arctic Sea and was additional to the normal East Greenland sea-ice near the coast. Three subsequent periods of Odden melting in summer released large pulses of cold fresh water and ice which entered the Labrador Sea basin 2,000 km away and facilitated three corresponding periods of unprecedented sea-ice formation in the following winter. We identify Odden and Labrador Sea meltwater as the sources of the three Great Salinity Anomalies that spread cold low-salt water around the northwest Atlantic in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s and may have affected North Atlantic climate.

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Why is it important?

Sea surface temperature patterns across the North Atlantic can affect the climate of Europe. Our new work has identified a new way that cold and fresh water is moved around the coast of Greenland. Improved understanding can help to better interpret how ocean and atmospheric circulations are changing and their effects on global climate change.


This was a paper led my Dad who is retired but is keen to learn and contribute new understanding about the oceans and our climate. I initially showed him how to analyse data using the KNMI climate explorer and then we collaborated to produce this new research which I hope is interesting and useful new knowledge for the oceans and climate community!

Professor Richard P Allan
University of Reading

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Odden Ice Melt Linked to Labrador Sea Ice Expansions and the Great Salinity Anomalies of 1970–1995, Journal of Geophysical Research Oceans, April 2024, American Geophysical Union (AGU),
DOI: 10.1029/2023jc019988.
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