1Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
2Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, Bern, Switzerland
3Institute for Marine Research, Bergen, Norway
4Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
Abstract. Salt transport in the Irminger Current and thus the coupling between eastern and western subpolar North Atlantic plays an important role for climate variability across a wide range of time scales. High-resolution ocean modeling and observations indicate that salinities in the eastern subpolar North Atlantic decrease with enhanced circulation of the North Atlantic subpolar gyre (SPG). This has led to the perception that a stronger SPG also transports less salt westward. In this study, we analyze a regional ocean model and a comprehensive global coupled climate model, and show that a stronger SPG transports more salt in the Irminger Current irrespective of lower salinities in its source region. The additional salt converges in the Labrador Sea and the Irminger Basin by eddy transports, increases surface salinity in the western SPG, and favors more intense deep convection. This is part of a positive feedback mechanism with potentially large implications for climate variability and predictability.