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Why care about changes deep down in the Norwegian Sea?

Why care about changes deep down in the Norwegian Sea?


Published: 29.04.2022
Oppdatert: 18.07.2022

Andreas R. Graven
Gunn Janne Myrseth

VIDEO: Deep down in the Norwegian Sea, something extraordinary is going on. The temperature of the deep water is rising like never before.

Should we bother about the changes that occur in such a remote location?

The video above, produced by NORCE, originates from the research project "Deep water exiting the Nordic Seas: a pacemaker of North Atlantic circulation".

The focus of the research project has been the deep water exported from the southern boundary of the Nordic Seas at a series of sills.

These so-called overflow waters pervade the North Atlantic and global oceans, contributing to the structure and strength of the overturning circulation, that is fundamental in our climate system.

Further, these overflow waters contribute to the deep and long-term storage of heat and carbon that reduce atmospheric increases in heat and carbon and mitigate climate change.

As long as the overflow is stable the supply of warm water at the surface is guaranteed. But what happens when the overflow weakens, because the water is no longer cold and therefore heavy enough?

Can we cross a tipping point?

Currently, the so-called overflow is stable. But it is getting warmer.

Instruments continuously measure the current strength and monitor the overflow for example south of the Faroe Islands at a depth of 800 m.

Those sensors and their observations are essential for scientists to understand the overflow and to anticipate future changes and their consequences.

The project includes Nordic experts on

  • regional observations (Østerhus, Hansen, Larsen, Hátún, Chafik, Jónsson, Macrander),
  • modelling of overturning circulation and climate linkages (Olsen, Chafik), and
  • water mass changes and large scale North Atlantic circulation variability (McDonagh, Richter, Chafik, Larsen, Hátún).


Elaine McDonagh

Research Professor - Bergen
+47 56 10 75 84

Kristin Richter

Senior Researcher - Bergen
+47 56 10 75 81

Svein Østerhus

Senior Researcher - Bergen
+47 56 10 75 63

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