Arctic bottom water

From Glossary of Meteorology



Arctic Bottom Water

The water mass formed in the Arctic Ocean by a combination of freezing on the arctic shelf and deep winter convection in the Greenland and Norwegian Seas.

Freezing increases the salinity under the ice; the dense water sinks to the ocean floor and leaves the arctic basins to enter the Greenland and Norwegian Seas, where it mixes with water that sinks under the influence of surface cooling. The resulting water mass has a salinity of 34.95 psu and a temperature of -0.8° to -0.9°C. It fills the Arctic Ocean at all depths below 800 m, the sill depth to the Atlantic. It enters the Atlantic in bursts, when the passage of atmospheric depressions lifts the thermocline and allows Arctic Bottom Water to flow over the sill. Overflow events in the Denmark Strait and across the Iceland–Faeroe sill contribute some 5 Sv (5 × 106 m3s-1) to the formation of North Atlantic Deep Water.


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