Warming of Atlantic Water in two west Spitsbergen fjords over the last century (1912-2009)
The recently observed warming of west Spitsbergen fjords has led to anomalous sea-ice conditions and has implications for the marine ecosystem. We investigated long-term trends of maximum temperature of AtlanticWater (AW) in two west Spitsbergen fjords. The data set is composed of more than 400 oceanographic stations for Isfjorden and Grønfjorden (78.1°N), spanning from 1876 to 2009. Trends throughout the last century (1912-2009) indicate an increase of 1.9°C and 2.1°C in the maximum temperature during autumn for Isfjorden and Grønfjorden, respectively. A recent warming event in the beginning of the 21st century is found to be more than 1°C higher than the second warmest period in the time series. Mean sea-level pressure (MSLP) data from ERA-40 and ERA-Interim data sets produced by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts and mean temperature in the core of the West Spitsbergen Current (WSC) at the Sørkapp Section along 76.3°N were used to explain the variability of the maximum temperature. A correlation analysis confirmed previous findings, showing that variability in the oceanography of the fjords can be explained mainly by two external factors: AW temperature variability in the WSC and regional patterns of the wind stress field. To take both processes into consideration, a multiple regression model accounting for temperature in the WSC core and MSLP over the area was developed. The predicted time series shows a reasonable agreement with observed maxima temperature in Isfjorden for the period 1977-2009 (N=24), with a statistically significant multiple correlation coefficient of 0.60 (R²=0.36) at P<0.05.
Keywords Temperature; West Spitsbergen Current; Atlantic Water; ERA reanalysis; warming; Svalbard
(Published: 6 May 2013)
Citation: Polar Research 2013, 32, 11206, http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/polar.v32i0.11206
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Authors retain copyright of their work, with first publication rights granted to the Norwegian Polar Institute.