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Title: Influence of Physical Factors on Restratification of the Upper Water Column in Antarctic Coastal Polynyas

Antarctic coastal polynyas are hotspots of biological production with intensive springtime phytoplankton blooms that strongly depend on meltwater‐induced restratification in the upper part of the water column. However, the fundamental physics that determine spatial inhomogeneity of the spring restratification remain unclear. Here, we investigate how different meltwaters affect springtime restratification and thus phytoplankton bloom in Antarctic coastal polynyas. A high‐resolution coupled ice‐shelf/sea‐ice/ocean model is used to simulate an idealized coastal polynya similar to the Terra Nova Bay Polynya, Ross Sea, Antarctica. To evaluate the contribution of various meltwater sources, we conduct sensitivity simulations altering physical factors such as alongshore winds, ice shelf basal melt, and surface freshwater runoff. Our findings indicate that sea ice meltwater from offshore is the primary buoyancy source of polynya near‐surface restratification, particularly in the outer‐polynya region where chlorophyll concentration tends to be high. Downwelling‐favorable alongshore winds can direct offshore sea ice away and prevent sea ice meltwater from entering the polynya region. Although the ice shelf basal meltwater can ascend to the polynya surface, much of it is mixed vertically over the water column and confined horizontally to a narrow coastal region, and thus does not contribute significantly to the polynya near‐surface restratification. Surface runoff from ice shelf surface melt could contribute greatly to the polynya near‐surface restratification. Nearby ice tongues and headlands strongly influence the restratification through modifying polynya circulation and meltwater transport pathways. Results of this study can help explain observed spatiotemporal variability in restratification and associated biological productivity in Antarctic coastal polynyas.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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