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Sampling-Dependent Transition Paths of Iceland-Scotland Overflow Water

  • In this note, we apply Transition Path Theory (TPT) from Markov chains to shed light on the problem of Iceland-Scotland Overflow Water (ISOW) equatorward export. A recent analysis of observed trajectories of submerged floats demanded revision of the traditional abyssal circulation theory, which postulates that ISOW should steadily flow along a deep boundary current (DBC) around the subpolar North Atlantic prior to exiting it. The TPT analyses carried out here allow to focus the attention on the portions of flow from the origin of ISOW to the region where ISOW exits the subpolar North Atlantic and suggest that insufficient sampling may be biasing the aforementioned demand. The analyses, appropriately adapted to represent a continuous input of ISOW, are carried out on three time-homogeneous Markov chains modeling the ISOW flow. One is constructed using a high number of simulated trajectories homogeneously covering the flow domain. The other two use much fewer trajectories which heterogeneously cover the domain. The trajectories in the latter two chains are observed trajectories or simulated trajectories subsampled at the observed frequency. While the densely sampled chain supports a well-defined DBC, the more heterogeneously sampled chains do not, irrespective of whether observed or simulated trajectories are used. Studying the sampling sensitivity of the Markov chains, we can give recommendations for enlarging the existing float dataset to improve the significance of conclusions about time-asymptotic aspects of the ISOW circulation.

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Author:Francisco Javier Beron-Vera, Maria Josefina Olascoaga, Luzie HelfmannORCiD, Philippe Miron
Document Type:Article
Parent Title (English):Journal of Physical Oceanography
First Page:1151
Last Page:1160
Date of first Publication:2023/01/20
ArXiv Id:http://arxiv.org/abs/2208.09499
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