Oceans and seas

Atlantic Water

November 6, 2011, 4:04 pm

Atlantic Water (AW) is a water mass traditionally defined as any water with salinity greater than 35.0 entering the Arctic domain from the Atlantic domain.

This article is written at a definitional level only. Authors wishing to expand this entry are inivited to expand the present treatment, which additions will be peer reviewed prior to publication of any expansion.

AW first entering the Iceland and Norwegian Seas typically has temperatures of six to eight degrees Celsius (C) and a salinity range of about 35.1 to 35.3, although the property ranges of other waters obviously connected with AW have prompted some to expand the definition to include all waters warmer than three degrees C and more saline than 34.9. Estimates of the total influx of AW range as high as nine Sverdrups.



caption Arctic Ocean Circulation. #6 indicates Atlantic Water Warmer, more salty surface waters from the Atlantic penetrate the Arctic Ocean and are cooled as they move through the Greenland Sea and the Norwegian Sea. As they get colder, they sink beneath the cold, less salty waters to depths reaching several hundred meters. Eventually, they exit through the Fram Strait, the only “gateway” that allows deeper water to flow through. Source: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution


Further Reading:

  • Physical Oceanography Index
  • James H. Swift. The arctic waters. In Burton G. Hurdle, editor, The Nordic Seas, pages 129–153. Springer-Verlag, 1986.


(2011). Atlantic Water. Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/150284


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