alt text
CTD deployment from cruise RRS James Clark Ross JR302. Image courtesy of National Oceanography Centre ©

The subpolar North Atlantic has a northward flow of warm water and southward flow of cold deep water, known as the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre. The conditions in the subpolar North Atlantic are influenced by a combination of warm water flowing from the subtropics as well as variability in the Arctic and local changes in circulation i.e. from weather patterns etc.

Monitoring and modelling the North Atlantic Gyre is not just important in terms of understanding our climate, but because changes in ocean circulation affect the weather. The ocean circulation has many feedback mechanisms and the conditions in the subpolar North Atlantic can affect the number of blocking highs over Europe, rainfall in the US, or even rainfall in the Sahel.

However, at present, the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre is measured inadequately, whilst ocean general circulation and climate models represent it inaccurately.

UK-OSNAP will make sustained observations of ocean circulation and fluxes in the subpolar North Atlantic, which will be combined with modelling and analysis. This will create a better understanding of the physics of this region, leading to an improvement in climate models.