Oceanographic conditions on the continental shelf of the Ross Sea, Antarctica, affect sea ice production, Antarctic Bottom Water formation, mass loss from the Ross Ice Shelf, and ecosystems. Since ship access to the Ross Sea is restricted by sea ice in winter, most upper ocean measurements have been acquired in summer. We report the first multiyear time series of temperature and salinity throughout the water column, obtained with autonomous profiling floats. Seven Apex floats were deployed in 2013 on the midcontinental shelf, and six Air‐Launched Autonomous Micro Observer floats were deployed in late 2016, mostly near the ice shelf front. Between profiles, most floats were parked on the seabed to minimize lateral motion. Surface mixed layer temperatures, salinities, and depths, in winter were −1.8 °C, 34.34, and 250–500 m, respectively. Freshwater from sea ice melt in early December formed a shallow (20 m) surface mixed layer, which deepened to 50–80 m and usually warmed to above −0.5 °C by late January. Upper‐ocean freshening continued throughout the summer, especially in the eastern Ross Sea and along the ice shelf front. This freshening requires substantial lateral advection that is dominated by inflow from melting of sea ice and ice shelves in the Amundsen Sea and by inputs from the Ross Ice Shelf. Changes in upper‐ocean freshwater and heat content along the ice shelf front in summer affect cross‐ice front advection, ice shelf melting, and calving processes that determine the rate of mass loss from the grounded Antarctic Ice Sheet in this sector.
Data from a late spring survey of the northeast Chukchi Sea are used to investigate various aspects of newly ventilated winter water (NVWW). More than 96% of the water sampled on the shelf was NVWW, the saltiest (densest) of which tended to be in the main flow pathways on the shelf. Nearly all of the hydrographic profiles on the shelf displayed a two‐layer structure, with a surface mixed layer and bottom boundary layer separated by a weak density interface (on the order of 0.02 kg/m3). Using a polynya model to drive a one‐dimensional mixing model, it was demonstrated that, on average, the profiles would become completely homogenized within 14–25 hr when subjected to the March and April heat fluxes. A subset of the profiles would become homogenized when subjected to the May heat fluxes. Since the study domain contained numerous leads within the pack ice—many of them refreezing—and since some of the measured profiles were vertically uniform in density, this suggests that NVWW is formed throughout the Chukchi shelf via convection within small openings in the ice. This is consistent with the result that the salinity signals of the NVWW along the central shelf pathway cannot be explained solely by advection from Bering Strait or via modification within large polynyas. The local convection would be expected to stir nutrients into the water column from the sediments, which explains the high nitrate concentrations observed throughout the shelf. This provides a favorable initial condition for phytoplankton growth on the Chukchi shelf.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- p. 7153-7177
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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