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  1. Abstract

    West Antarctic Ice Sheet mass loss is a major source of uncertainty in sea level projections. The primary driver of this melting is oceanic heat from Circumpolar Deep Water originating offshore in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Yet, in assessing melt variability, open ocean processes have received considerably less attention than those governing cross-shelf exchange. Here, we use Lagrangian particle release experiments in an ocean model to investigate the pathways by which Circumpolar Deep Water moves toward the continental shelf across the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean. We show that Ross Gyre expansion, linked to wind and sea ice variability, increases poleward heat transport along the gyre’s eastern limb and the relative fraction of transport toward the Amundsen Sea. Ross Gyre variability, therefore, influences oceanic heat supply toward the West Antarctic continental slope. Understanding remote controls on basal melt is necessary to predict the ice sheet response to anthropogenic forcing.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2025
  2. Open-ocean polynyas formed over the Maud Rise, in the Weddell Sea, during the winters of 2016–2017. Such polynyas are rare events in the Southern Ocean and are associated with deep convection, affecting regional carbon and heat budgets. Using an ocean state estimate, we found that during 2017, early sea ice melting occurred in response to enhanced vertical mixing of heat, which was accompanied by mixing of salt. The melting sea ice compensated for the vertically mixed salt, resulting in a net buoyancy gain. An additional salt input was then necessary to destabilize the upper ocean. This came from a hitherto unexplored polynya-formation mechanism: an Ekman transport of salt across a jet girdling the northern flank of the Maud Rise. Such transport was driven by intensified eastward surface stresses during 2015–2018. Our results illustrate how highly localized interactions between wind, ocean flow and topography can trigger polynya formation in the open Southern Ocean.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 3, 2025
  3. Physics-based simulations of Arctic sea ice are highly complex, involving transport between different phases, length scales, and time scales. Resultantly, numerical simulations of sea ice dynamics have a high computational cost and model uncertainty. We employ data-driven machine learning (ML) to make predictions of sea ice motion. The ML models are built to predict present-day sea ice velocity given present-day wind velocity and previous-day sea ice concentration and velocity. Models are trained using reanalysis winds and satellite-derived sea ice properties. We compare the predictions of three different models: persistence (PS), linear regression (LR), and a convolutional neural network (CNN). We quantify the spatiotemporal variability of the correlation between observations and the statistical model predictions. Additionally, we analyze model performance in comparison to variability in properties related to ice motion (wind velocity, ice velocity, ice concentration, distance from coast, bathymetric depth) to understand the processes related to decreases in model performance. Results indicate that a CNN makes skillful predictions of daily sea ice velocity with a correlation up to 0.81 between predicted and observed sea ice velocity, while the LR and PS implementations exhibit correlations of 0.78 and 0.69, respectively. The correlation varies spatially and seasonally: lower values occur in shallow coastal regions and during times of minimum sea ice extent. LR parameter analysis indicates that wind velocity plays the largest role in predicting sea ice velocity on 1-day time scales, particularly in the central Arctic. Regions where wind velocity has the largest LR parameter are regions where the CNN has higher predictive skill than the LR. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  5. Abstract

    In the tropical Pacific, weak ventilation and intense microbial respiration at depth give rise to a low dissolved oxygen (O2) environment that is thought to be ventilated primarily by the equatorial current system (ECS). The role of mesoscale eddies and vertical mixing as potential pathways of O2supply in this region, however, remains poorly known due to sparse observations and coarse model resolution. Using an eddy resolving simulation of ocean circulation and biogeochemistry, we assess the contribution of these processes to the O2budget balance and find that vertical mixing of O2, which is modulated by the surface wind speed and the vertical shear of the eddying currents, contributes substantially to the replenishment of O2in the upper equatorial Pacific thermocline, complementing the advective supply of O2by the ECS and meridional circulation at depth. These transport processes vary seasonally in conjunction with the wind: mixing of O2into the upper thermocline is strongest during boreal summer and fall when the vertical shear and eddy kinetic energy are intensified. The relationship between eddy activity and the downward mixing of O2arises from the modulation of equatorial turbulence by Tropical Instability Waves via their impacts on the vertical shear. This interaction of processes across scales sustains a local pathway of O2delivery into the equatorial Pacific interior and highlights the need for adequate observations and models of turbulent mixing and mesoscale processes for understanding and predicting the fate of the tropical Pacific O2content in a warmer and more stratified ocean.

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  6. Abstract Atmospheric rivers (ARs) result in precipitation over land and ocean. Rainfall on the ocean can generate a buoyant layer of freshwater that impacts exchanges between the surface and the mixed layer. These “fresh lenses” are important for weather and climate because they may impact the ocean stratification at all time scales. Here we use in situ ocean data, collocated with AR events, and a one-dimensional configuration of a general circulation model, to investigate the impact of AR precipitation on surface ocean salinity in the California Current System (CCS) on seasonal and event-based time scales. We find that at coastal and onshore locations the CCS freshens through the rainy season due to AR events, and years with higher AR activity are associated with a stronger freshening signal. On shorter time scales, model simulations suggest that events characteristic of CCS ARs can produce salinity changes that are detectable by ocean instruments (≥0.01 psu). Here, the surface salinity change depends linearly on rain rate and inversely on wind speed. Higher wind speeds ( U > 8 m s −1 ) induce mixing, distributing freshwater inputs to depths greater than 20 m. Lower wind speeds ( U ≤ 8 m s −1 ) allow freshwater lenses to remain at the surface. Results suggest that local precipitation is important in setting the freshwater seasonal cycle of the CCS and that the formation of freshwater lenses should be considered for identifying impacts of atmospheric variability on the upper ocean in the CCS on weather event time scales. Significance Statement Atmospheric rivers produce large amounts of rainfall. The purpose of this study is to understand how this rain impacts the surface ocean in the California Current System on seasonal and event time scales. Our results show that a greater precipitation over the rainy season leads to a larger decrease in salinity over time. On shorter time scales, these atmospheric river precipitation events commonly produce a surface salinity response that is detectable by ocean instruments. This salinity response depends on the amount of rainfall and the wind speed. In general, higher wind speeds will cause the freshwater input from rain to mix deeper, while lower wind speeds will have reduced mixing, allowing a layer of freshwater to persist at the surface. 
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  7. Abstract. In this work, we integrated the WAVEWATCH III model into the regional coupled model SKRIPS (Scripps–KAUST Regional Integrated Prediction System). The WAVEWATCH III model is implemented with flexibility, meaning the coupled system can run with or without the wave component. In our implementations, we considered the effect of Stokes drift, Langmuir turbulence, sea surface roughness, and wave-induced momentum fluxes. To demonstrate the impact of coupling we performed a case study using a series of coupled and uncoupled simulations of Tropical Cyclone Mekunu, which occurred in the Arabian Sea in May 2018. We examined the model skill in these simulations and further investigated the impact of Langmuir turbulence in the coupled system. Because of the chaotic nature of the atmosphere, we ran an ensemble of 20 members for each coupled and uncoupled experiment. We found that the characteristics of the tropical cyclone are not significantly different due to the effect of surface waves when using different parameterizations, but the coupled models better capture the minimum pressure and maximum wind speed compared with the benchmark stand-alone Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. Moreover, in the region of the cold wake, when Langmuir turbulence is considered in the coupled system, the sea surface temperature is about 0.5 ∘C colder, and the mixed layer is about 20 m deeper. This indicates the ocean model is sensitive to the parameterization of Langmuir turbulence in the coupled simulations. 
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