nearly The water south of Greenland has been cooling, so what causes that? will lid the most recent and most present steerage one thing just like the world. entre slowly suitably you perceive properly and accurately. will addition your data adroitly and reliably

Sea floor temperature pattern from 1993 to 2018, from the European Atlas of the Seas

Let’s examine two prospects utilizing a calculation on the again of the envelope.

(1) Is it attributable to lowered warmth transport from the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)?

(2) Or is it merely because of the inflow of chilly meltwater because the Greenland ice sheet is shedding ice?

The latter is commonly advised. Meltwater additionally not directly contributes to slowing down the AMOC, however not as a result of it’s chilly however as a result of it’s contemporary (not saline) water, which contributes to the primary choice (ie reducing the AMOC).

AMOC warmth transport

For that, we take the circulate of AMOC by the temperature distinction of 15 °C between the higher department to the north and the deep return circulate to the south to acquire the warmth transport.

17,000,000m3/sx 15 Okay x 1025 kg/m3 x 4 kJ/kgK = 1 PW (1)

(Right here, 1 VP = 10fifteen Watt and 4 kJ/kgK is the warmth capability of water.)

An AMOC that weakens by 15% cools the area at a price of 0.15 PW = 1.5 x 1014 W and based on mannequin simulations can absolutely clarify the noticed cooling pattern (2). In fact, this slowdown is not simply attributable to meltwater from Greenland; Different components, reminiscent of elevated precipitation, most likely play a bigger position, however the impression of the Greenland soften shouldn’t be negligible, as we argue in (3).

Greenland ice soften

Right here we begin by taking the speed of mass loss from Greenland to the ocean, multiplied by the temperature distinction between the meltwater and the water it replaces. Word that we have an interest within the longer-term temperature pattern over many years within the area with correctly combined meltwater, not some momentary patches of meltwater that float domestically to the floor.

Complete mass loss in Greenland has averaged 270 Gt/yr over the previous 20 years (4).

Nevertheless, most of it evaporates, and what leads to the ocean of this, based on a latest examine by Jason Field (5), is round 100 Gt/yr, of which about 30% as ice. and 70% within the type of slush.

100 Gt/yr = 3,000 tons/second: Seems like so much, however the AMOC flux is greater than 5,000 instances higher.

Assuming runoff from ice and meltwater happens at 0°C and replaces water at 10°C (a really excessive assumption for summer time circumstances and never the long-term common), the speed of cooling is:

3,000,000 kg/s x 10 Okay x 4 kJ/kgK = 1.2 x 10eleven W

So, by comparability, the cooling impact of a 15% AMOC slowdown is greater than 1,000 instances greater than the direct cooling impact of Greenland meltwater.

For the half that enters the ocean as ice, we should additionally contemplate that power is required to soften the ice. The warmth of fusion of water is 334 kJ/kg so it provides as much as 900 ton/s x 334 kJ/kg = 3 x 10eleven w

So it seems that those that counsel that ‘chilly’ meltwater may trigger the chilly drop within the North Atlantic are doubly unsuitable: if we’re speaking concerning the direct impression of issues popping out of Greenland, then ice is the dominant issue and the power required to soften ice. However each the direct impact of meltwater and icebergs getting into the ocean are utterly dwarfed by the weakening of the AMOC (no matter whether or not we go along with the numbers from Field et al. or different estimates). And Greenland’s contribution to that’s not as a result of the meltwater is ‘chilly’, however as a result of it’s contemporary: it incorporates no salt and dilutes the salinity of the ocean water, lowering its density.

As a further statement: The cooling patch pictured above usually disappears in summer time, coated by a heat floor layer, simply as Greenland’s soften season is underway, solely to reappear as deeper mixing begins in autumn. This once more helps the concept it’s not attributable to a direct impact of the ingress of chilly soften water. Additionally examine the temperature change instantly off the coast of Greenland, the place the meltwater enters, within the picture above.

Lastly, some have advised that the chilly blob south of Greenland has been attributable to elevated warmth loss to the environment. That, in fact, is related to short-term local weather variability: if a chilly wind blows over the ocean, it should in fact cool the floor, however I do not suppose it might probably clarify the long-term pattern, as we mentioned earlier right here on Realclimate.


1. Trenberth, KE and Fasullo, JT (2017) Atlantic meridional warmth transports calculated from the native Earth power stability, Geophysical. Res. Depart. 44: 1919-1927.

2. Caesar, L., Rahmstorf, S., Robinson, A., Feulner, G. & Saba, V. (2018) Noticed fingerprint of a weakening abrogated circulation within the Atlantic Ocean, Nature 556: 191-196.

3. Rahmstorf, S., JE Field, G. Feulner, ME Mann, A. Robinson, S. Rutherford, and EJ Schaffernicht, 2015: Distinctive Twentieth-Century Slowdown within the Aborted Circulation of the Atlantic Ocean. Nature Local weather Change, 5, 475–480, doi:10.1038/nclimate2554.

4. NASA Very important Indicators, https://local

5. Field, JE, et al. (2022), Greenland Ice Sheet Local weather Imbalance and Sea Degree Rise Dedicated, Nature Clim. Change, 12(9), 808-813, doi: 10.1038/s41558-022-01

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The water south of Greenland has been cooling, so what causes that?