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Rapid Entrainment-Forced Freshening of the Iceland Scotland Overflow
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  • Manish Devana,
  • William E. Johns,
  • Sijia ZOU,
  • Adam Houk
Manish Devana
University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences

Corresponding Author:mdevana@miami.edu

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William E. Johns
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami
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Sijia ZOU
Duke University
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Adam Houk
University of Miami
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Newly available mooring observations from the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program (OSNAP) show an abrupt decline in Iceland Scotland Overflow (ISOW) salinity from 2017 to 2018 summer. Previous declines in ISOW salinity of similar magnitude have largely been attributed to changes in convectively formed deep waters in the Nordic seas on decadal time scales. We show that this rapid decline in salinity was driven by entrainment of a major upper ocean salinity anomaly in the Iceland Basin. This is shown by tracking the propagation of the upper ocean anomaly into ISOW using a combination of mooring and Argo observations, surface drifter trajectories, and numerical model results. A 2-year total transit time from the upper ocean into the ISOW layer was found. The results show that entrainment allows for rapid modification of ISOW, and consequently the lower limb of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, on sub-decadal timescales.