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Rebecca Woodgate

Senior Principal Oceanographer

Associate Professor, Oceanography

Email

woodgate@apl.washington.edu

Phone

206-221-3268

Biosketch

Dr. Woodgate is a physical oceanographer, specialising in polar research, with special focus on the circulation of the Arctic Ocean, interactions between sea-ice and the ocean, and the role of the polar oceans in climate. Her research concentrates on the collection and analysis of in-situ oceanographic data. She has worked for many years in the deployment and recovery of moored oceanographic instrumentation in ice-covered waters, and the analysis of both mooring and hydrographic data. She is involved in undergraduate teaching and graduate education. She has worked on British, German, Norwegian, and American research vessels and led expeditions to Bering Strait and the Arctic Ocean. Her first degree is in physics from the University of Cambridge and her PhD (University of Oxford) is in data assimilation in ocean models. Her postdoc work was done at the Alfred-Wegener Institute in Germany. Dr. Woodgate's research goal is to understand the physical processes in both Arctic and Antarctic regions, and to use her background to bridge the gap between theory, modeling, and real observations of the oceans.

Department Affiliation

Polar Science Center

Education

B.A. Physics & Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, Christ's College, 1990

Ph.D. Oceanography, University of Oxford, 1994

Projects

High Latitude Dynamics

Year-round subsurface moorings are used to study the Arctic throughout the year. PIs Aagaard and Woodgate focus on mooring and other in situ data to address a variety of Arctic questions - including flow of Atlantic and Pacific waters, interactions between the shelves and the deep basins, and the properties of the Arctic Ocean Boundary Current.

 

Changing Sea Ice and the Bering Sea Ecosystem

Part of the BEST (Bering Sea Ecosystem Study) Project, this study will use high-resolution modeling of Bering Sea circulation to understand past change in the eastern Bering climate and ecosystem and to predict the timing and scope of future change.

 

Bering Strait: Pacific Gateway to the Arctic

The Bering Strait is the only Pacific gateway to the Arctic. Since 1990, under various funding, APL-UW has been measuring properties of the Pacific inflow using long-term in situ moorings, supported by annual cruises. Data, papers, cruise reports, plans, and results are available.

 

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Atlantic Water in the Arctic

Atlantic Waters (AWs) are volumetrically the largest inflow to the Arctic Ocean. They form the major subsurface circum-arctic oceanic transport system and ventilate the interior basins. They are the greatest pan-arctic reservoir of oceanic heat, which may influence upper layers and the sea-ice, for example through slope upwelling and mixing. Circulation of AW carries tracers and contaminants through the Arctic, and the pan-arctic distribution of AW offers a warm corridor for invasive species. Globally, arctic-modification of AW contributes to the North Atlantic overflows and is a high-latitude (climate-sensitive) part of the meridional overturning circulation. In collaboration with national/international observational, modeling and theoretical partners, this project is creating an observationally-based synthesis of the Atlantic Water circulation in the western Arctic, using available historic oceanic data, and exploiting a new technique of tracing water pathways using characteristics of double diffusive temperature-salinity structures.

 

Arctic Mixing: Changing Seasonality of Wind-driven Mixing

The Arctic Ocean, as we have come to know it over the last decades, is a quiescent, highly stratified ocean, with subsurface reservoirs and boundary sources of heat and nutrients that are often isolated from surface processes and the photic zone. The primary reason for this quiescence is believed to be the dominant presence of sea-ice, which acts to isolate the ocean from the mixing effects of wind. With the summer sea-ice reduction now exposing over 60% of the Arctic Ocean to the seasonal effects of wind forcing, it is urgent to consider the potential impacts of this available wind energy on the seasonality of the Arctic system. We suggest that the expanding extent and duration of seasonal open water in the Arctic has the potential to reshape the properties and stratification of the upper ocean, dramatically altering mixed layer depths, strengthening the internal wave field by at least an order of magnitude, thus enhancing turbulent mixing in the halo/pycnocline. If sufficiently strong, this enhanced mixing could bring nutrients and heat from the Pacific Waters into the surface and photic zone, with implications for Arctic ecosystems, surface fluxes, and feedbacks to sea-ice formation. In this collaborative proposal, we are using theory, observations and simple models to examine changes in Arctic mixed layer depths and internal wave energy and to predict impacts on Arctic ecosystems and the heat and freshwater balances of the Arctic.

 

Changes in Seasonality in the Arctic Ocean

The Arctic sea ice cover impedes the generation and damps the propagation of surface and internal waves. As more and more of the deep Arctic Ocean becomes ice-free in the summer, wind-driven inertial waves and mixing are likely to become increasingly important. This project studies the consequences of the decreasing ice cover on the stratification of the upper ocean as well as its impacts on the geochemistry and biological productivity of the Arctic system.

 

Publications

2000-present and while at APL-UW

The Barents and Chukchi seas: Comparison of two Arctic shelf ecosystems

Hunt, G.L., Jr., A.L. Blanchard, P. Boveng, P. Dalpadado, K.F. Drinkwater, L. Eisner, R.R. Hopcroft, K.M. Kovacs, B.L. Norcross, P. Renaud, M. Reigstad, M. Renner, H.R. Skjoldal, A. Whitehouse, and R.A. Woodgate, "The Barents and Chukchi seas: Comparison of two Arctic shelf ecosystems," J. Mar. Syst., 109-110, 43-68, doi:10.1016/j.jmarsys.2012.08.003, 2013.

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1 Jan 2013

This paper compares and contrasts the ecosystems of the Barents and Chukchi Seas. Despite their similarity in a number of features, the Barents Sea supports a vast biomass of commercially important fish, but the Chukchi does not. Here we examine a number of aspects of these two seas to ascertain how they are similar and how they differ. We then indentify processes and mechanisms that may be responsible for their similarities and differences.

Both the Barents and Chukchi Seas are high latitude, seasonally ice covered, Arctic shelf-seas. Both have strongly advective regimes, and receive water from the south. Water entering the Barents comes from the deep, ice-free and "warm" Norwegian Sea, and contains not only heat, but also a rich supply of zooplankton that supports larval fish in spring. In contrast, Bering Sea water entering the Chukchi in spring and early summer is cold. In spring, this Bering Sea water is depleted of large, lipid-rich zooplankton, thus likely resulting in a relatively low availability of zooplankton for fish. Although primary production on average is similar in the two seas, fish biomass density is an order of magnitude greater in the Barents than in the Chukchi Sea. The Barents Sea supports immense fisheries, whereas the Chukchi Sea does not. The density of cetaceans in the Barents Sea is about double that in the Chukchi Sea, as is the density of nesting seabirds, whereas, the density of pinnipeds in the Chukchi is about double that in the Barents Sea. In the Chukchi Sea, export of carbon to the benthos and benthic biomass may be greater. We hypothesize that the difference in fish abundance in the two seas is driven by differences in the heat and plankton advected into them, and the amount of primary production consumed in the upper water column. However, we suggest that the critical difference between the Chukchi and Barents Seas is the pre-cooled water entering the Chukchi Sea from the south. This cold water, and the winter mixing of the Chukchi Sea as it becomes ice covered, result in water temperatures below the physiological limits of the commercially valuable fish that thrive in the southeastern Bering Sea. If climate change warms the Barents Sea, thereby increasing the open water area via reducing ice cover, productivity at most trophic levels is likely to increase. In the Chukchi, warming should also reduce sea ice cover, permitting a longer production season. However, the shallow northern Bering and Chukchi Seas are expected to continue to be ice-covered in winter, so water there will continue to be cold in winter and spring, and is likely to continue to be a barrier to the movement of temperate fish into the Chukchi Sea. Thus, it is unlikely that large populations of boreal fish species will become established in this Arctic marginal sea.

Ocean

Timmermans, M.-L., et al., including J. Jackson, M. Steele, and R. Woodgate, "Ocean," In Arctic Report Card, M.O. Jeffries, J.A. Richter-Menge, and J.E. Overland, eds., 42-54 (NOAA Climate Program Office, 2012).

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5 Dec 2012

Highlights

The 2011 annual wind-driven circulation regime was anticyclonic, supporting continued high volumes of freshwater in the Beaufort Gyre region and consistent with a 2012 shift of the Beaufort Gyre freshwater center to the west.

Sea surface temperatures in summer continue to be anomalously warm at the ice-free margins, while upper ocean temperature and salinity show significant interannual variability with no clear trends.

Oceanic fluxes of volume and heat through the Bering Strait increased by ~50% between 2001 and 2011.

Sea level exhibits decadal variability with a reduced correlation to sea level atmospheric pressure since the late 1990s.

Observed increases in Bering Strait oceanic fluxes from the Pacific to the Arctic from 2001 to 2011 and their impacts on the Arctic Ocean water column

Woodgate, R.A., T.J. Weingartner, and R. Lindsay, "Observed increases in Bering Strait oceanic fluxes from the Pacific to the Arctic from 2001 to 2011 and their impacts on the Arctic Ocean water column," Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, doi:10.1029/2012GL054092,2012.

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1 Dec 2012

Mooring data indicate the Bering Strait throughflow increases ~50% from 2001 (~0.7 Sv) to 2011 (~1.1 Sv), driving heat and freshwater flux increases. Increase in the Pacific-Arctic pressure-head explains two-thirds of the change, the rest being attributable to weaker local winds. The 2011 heat flux (~5 x 1020J) approaches the previous record high (2007) due to transport increases and warmer lower layer (LL) temperatures, despite surface temperature (SST) cooling. In the last decade, warmer LL waters arrive earlier (1.6 ± 1.1 days/yr), though winds and SST are typical for recent decades. Maximum summer salinities, likely set in the Bering Sea, remain remarkably constant (~33.1 psu) over the decade, elucidating the stable salinity of the western Arctic cold halocline. Despite this, freshwater flux variability (strongly driven by transport) exceeds variability in other Arctic freshwater sources. Remote data (winds, SST) prove insufficient for quantifying variability, indicating interannual change can still only be assessed by in situ year-round measurements.

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Circulation on the central Bering Sea shelf, July 2008 – July 2010

Danielson, S.L., T.J. Weingartner, Kn. Aagaard, J. Zhang, and R.A. Woodgate, "Circulation on the central Bering Sea shelf, July 2008 – July 2010," J. Geophys. Res., 117, doi:10.1029/2012JC008303, 2012.

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1 Oct 2012

We examine the July 2008 to July 2010 circulation over the central Bering Sea shelf using measurements at eight instrumented moorings, hindcast winds and numerical model results. At sub-tidal time scales, the vertically integrated equations of motion show that the cross-shelf balance is primarily geostrophic. The along-shelf balance is also mainly geostrophic, but local accelerations, wind stress and bottom friction account for 10-40% of the momentum balance, depending on season and water depth. The shelf exhibits highly variable flow with small water column average vector mean speeds (< 5 cm s-1). Mean/peak speeds in summer (3–6 cm s-1/10–30 cm s-1) are smaller than in winter and fall (6–12 cm s-1/30–70 cm s-1). Low frequency flows (< 1/4 cpd) are horizontally coherent over distances exceeding 200 km. Vertical coherence varies seasonally, degrading with the onset of summer stratification. Because effects of heating and freezing are enhanced in shallow waters, warm summers increase the cross-shelf density gradient and thus enhance northward transport; cold winters with increased ice production and brine rejection increase the (now reversed) cross-shelf density gradient and enhance southward transport. Although the baroclinic velocity is large enough to influence seasonal transports, wind-forced Ekman dynamics are primarily responsible for flow variations. The system changes from strong northward flow (with coastal convergence) to strong southward flow (with coastal divergence) for northerly and easterly winds, respectively. Under northerly and northwesterly winds, nutrient-rich waters flow toward the central shelf from the north and northwest, replacing dilute coastal waters that are carried south and west.

Towards seasonal prediction of the distribution and extent of cold bottom waters on the Bering Sea shelf

Zhang, J., R. Woodgate, and S. Mangiameli, "Towards seasonal prediction of the distribution and extent of cold bottom waters on the Bering Sea shelf," Deep Sea Res. II, 65-70, 58-71, doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2012.02.023, 2012.

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21 Feb 2012

A coupled sea ice–ocean model, combined with observational and reanalysis data, is used to explore the seasonal predictability of the distribution and extent of cold bottom waters on the Bering Sea shelf through numerical simulations or statistical analyses. The model captures the spatiotemporal variability of trawl survey observations of bottom water temperature over the period 1970–2009. Of the various winter air–ice–3ocean parameters considered, the interannual variability of the winter on-shelf heat transport across the Bering Sea shelf break, dominated by changes in ocean flow, is most highly correlated with the interannual variability of the bottom layer properties (bottom temperature, and the distribution and extent of cold bottom waters) in spring–summer. This suggests that the winter heat transport may be the best seasonal predictor of the bottom layer properties. To varying degrees, the winter mean simulated sea surface temperature (SST), National Centers for Environmental Prediction/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP/NCAR) reanalysis surface air temperature (SAT), simulated and observed sea ice extent, the Bering Strait outflow, and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation are also significantly correlated with the spring–summer bottom layer properties. This suggests that, with varying skill, they may also be useful for statistical seasonal predictions. Good agreement between observations and results of the coupled ice–ocean model suggests also the possibility of numerical seasonal predictions of the bottom layer properties. The simulated field of bottom layer temperature on the Bering Sea shelf on 31 May is a good predictor of the distribution and extent of cold bottom waters throughout late spring and summer. These variables, both in the model and in reality, do not change significantly from June to October, primarily owing to increased upper ocean stratification in late spring due to ice melt and surface warming, which tends to isolate and preserve the cold bottom waters on the shelf. However, the ocean stratification, and hence the isolation effect, is stronger in cold years than in warm years because more ice is available for melting in spring–summer.

Changes to the near-surface waters in the Canada Basin, Arctic Ocean from 1993-2009: A basin in transition

Jackson, J.M., S.E. Allen, F.A. McLaughlin, R.A. Woodgate, and E.C. Carmack, "Changes to the near-surface waters in the Canada Basin, Arctic Ocean from 1993-2009: A basin in transition," J. Geophys. Res., 116, doi: 10.1029/2011JC007069, 2011.

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12 Oct 2011

Increased sea ice melt and decreased surface albedo have changed the near-surface water mass structure of the Canada Basin. From 1993-2009, the near-surface temperature maximum (NSTM) and remnant of the previous winter's mixed layer (rWML) warmed by about 1.5C and 0.5C and freshened by about 4 and 2 practical salinity units, respectively. Results from a 1-D model suggest rWML warming can be explained by heat diffusion from both the NSTM and Pacific Summer Water (PSW). The same model predicts salinization of the rWML, whereas freshening was observed. This suggests that changes to the rWML are from both diffusion and the accumulation of freshwater. The rWML's salinity was associated with distance from the center of the Beaufort Gyre; the rWML at stations inside the gyre was on average 1.9 salinity units fresher than at stations outside. In addition, the salinity of PSW in the Canada Basin - defined by its local temperature maximum - freshened from about 30-32 in 1993 to 28-32 in 2008. Order of magnitude calculations suggest that neither changes in PSW source waters nor changes in advection pathways of PSW explain this freshening. Our model suggests that salt diffused from PSW to the freshening rWML; this diffusion increased (and freshened the PSW salinity range) as the rWML freshened. These results show that surface effects through warming and ice melt are felt to at least the depth of PSW. Observations from 2009 show the appearance of a third temperature maximum from an as yet unknown source.

A synthesis of exchanges through the main oceanic gateways to the Arctic Ocean

Beszczynska-Moller, A., R.A. Woodgate, C. Lee, H. Melling, and M. Karcher, "A synthesis of exchanges through the main oceanic gateways to the Arctic Ocean," Oceanography, 24, 82-99, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2011.59, 2011.

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1 Sep 2011

In recent decades, the Arctic Ocean has changed dramatically. Exchanges through the main oceanic gateways indicate two main processes of global climatic importance - poleward oceanic heat flux into the Arctic Ocean and export of freshwater toward the North Atlantic. Since the 1990s, in particular during the International Polar Year (2007-2009), extensive observational efforts were undertaken to monitor volume, heat, and freshwater fluxes between the Arctic Ocean and the subpolar seas on scales from daily to multiyear. This paper reviews present-day estimates of oceanic fluxes and reports on technological advances and existing challenges in measuring exchanges through the main oceanic gateways to the Arctic.

From the Guest Editors: An introduction to the special issue

Ortiz, J.D., K.K. Falkner, P.A. Matrai, and R.A. Woodgate, "From the Guest Editors: An introduction to the special issue," Oceanography, 24, 14-16, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2011.49, 2011.

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1 Sep 2011

Over the last few decades, the Arctic Ocean has experienced profound changes. Its summer sea ice is shrinking dramatically, both in thickness and extent. Ever warmer pulses of Atlantic water are circulating within the Arctic basins. Pacific waters are bringing in record amounts of oceanic heat. Freshwater storage in the Arctic Ocean is displaying considerable variability. There are early signs of ocean acidification, and some waters are already corrosive to carbonate minerals important to marine life. Surface air temperature and pressure fields are exhibiting patterns different from those of the last several decades.

Impact of wind-driven mixing in the Arctic Ocean

Rainville, L., C.M. Lee, and R.A. Woodgate, "Impact of wind-driven mixing in the Arctic Ocean," Oceanography 24, 136-145, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2011.65, 2011.

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1 Sep 2011

The Arctic Ocean traditionally has been described as an ocean with low variability and weak turbulence levels. Many years of observations from ice camps and ice-based instruments have shown that the sea ice cover effectively isolates the water column from direct wind forcing and damps existing motions, resulting in relatively small upper-ocean variability and an internal wave field that is much weaker than at lower latitudes. Under the ice, direct and indirect estimates across the Arctic basins suggest that turbulent mixing does not play a significant role in the general distribution of oceanic properties and the evolution of Arctic water masses. However, during ice-free periods, the wind generates inertial motions and internal waves, and contributes to deepening of the mixed layer both on the shelves and over the deep basins - as at lower latitudes. Through their associated vertical mixing, these motions can alter the distribution of properties in the water column. With an increasing fraction of the Arctic Ocean becoming ice-free in summer and in fall, there is a crucial need for a better understanding of the impact of direct wind forcing on the Arctic Ocean.

Upwelling in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea: Atmospheric forcing and local versus non-local response.

Pickart, R.S., M.A. Spall, G.W.K. Moore, T.J. Weingartner, R.A. Woodgate, K. Aagaard, and K. Shimada. "Upwelling in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea: Atmospheric forcing and local versus non-local response." Prog. Oceanogr., 88, 78-100, doi:10.1016/j.pocean.2010.11.005, 2011.

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1 Jan 2011

The spin up and relaxation of an autumn upwelling event on the Beaufort slope is investigated using a combination of oceanic and atmospheric data and numerical models. The event occurred in November 2002 and was driven by an Aleutian low storm. The wind field was strongly influenced by the pack-ice distribution, resulting in enhanced winds over the open water of the Chukchi Sea. Flow distortion due to the Brooks mountain range was also evident. Mooring observations east of Barrow Canyon show that the Beaufort shelfbreak jet reversed to the west under strong easterly winds, followed by upwelling of Atlantic Water onto the shelf. After the winds subsided a deep eastward jet of Atlantic Water developed, centered at 250 m depth. An idealized numerical model reproduces these results and suggests that the oceanic response to the local winds is modulated by a propagating signal from the western edge of the storm. The disparity in wave speeds between the sea surface height signal - traveling at the fast barotropic shelf wave speed - versus the interior density signal - traveling at the slow baroclinic wave speed - leads to the deep eastward jet. The broad-scale response to the storm over the Chukchi Sea is investigated using a regional numerical model. The strong gradient in windspeed at the ice edge results in convergence of the offshore Ekman transport, leading to the establishment of an anti-cyclonic gyre in the northern Chukchi Sea. Accordingly, the Chukchi shelfbreak jet accelerates to the east into the wind during the storm, and no upwelling occurs west of Barrow Canyon. Hence the storm response is fundamentally different on the Beaufort slope (upwelling) versus the Chukchi slope (no upwelling). The regional numerical model results are supported by additional mooring data in the Chukchi Sea.

Analysis of the Arctic system for freshwater cycle intensification: Observations and expectations

Rawlins, M.A., et al., including M. Steele, C.M. Lee, M. Wensnahan, and R. Woodgate, "Analysis of the Arctic system for freshwater cycle intensification: Observations and expectations," J. Clim., 23, 5715-5737, doi:10.1175/2010JCLI3421.1, 2010.

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1 Nov 2010

Hydrologic cycle intensification is an expected manifestation of a warming climate. Although positive trends in several global average quantities have been reported, no previous studies have documented broad intensification across elements of the Arctic freshwater cycle (FWC). In this study, the authors examine the character and quantitative significance of changes in annual precipitation, evapotranspiration, and river discharge across the terrestrial pan-Arctic over the past several decades from observations and a suite of coupled general circulation models (GCMs). Trends in freshwater flux and storage derived from observations across the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas are also described.

Reconstruction and analysis of the Chukchi Sea circulation in 1990-1991

Panteleev, G., D.A. Nechaev, A. Proshutinsky, R. Woodgate, and J. Zhang, "Reconstruction and analysis of the Chukchi Sea circulation in 1990-1991," J. Geophys. Res., 115, doi:10.1029/2009JC005453, 2010.

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24 Aug 2010

The Chukchi Sea (CS) circulation reconstructed for September 1990 to October 1991 from sea ice and ocean data is presented and analyzed. The core of the observational data used in this study comprises the records from 12 moorings deployed in 1990 and 1991 in U.S. and Russian waters and two hydrographic surveys conducted in the region in the fall of 1990 and 1991. The observations are processed by a two-step data assimilation procedure involving the Pan-Arctic Ice-Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (employing a nudging algorithm for sea ice data assimilation) and the Semi-implicit Ocean Model [utilizing a conventional four-dimensional variational (4D-var) assimilation technique]. The reconstructed CS circulation is studied to identify pathways and assess residence times of Pacific water in the region; quantify the balances of volume, freshwater, and heat content; and determine the leading dynamical factors configuring the CS circulation.

It is found that in 1990–1991 (high AO index and a cyclonic circulation regime) Pacific water transiting the CS toward the Canada basin followed two major pathways, namely via Herald Canyon (Herald branch of circulation, 0.23 Sv) and between Herald Shoal and Cape Lisburne (central branch of circulation and Alaskan Coastal Current, 0.32 Sv). The annual mean flow through Long Strait was negligible (0.01 Sv). Typical residence time of Pacific water in the region varied between 150 days for waters entering the CS in September and 270 days for waters entering in February/March. Momentum balance analysis reveals that geostrophic balance between barotropic pressure gradient and Coriolis force dominated for most of the year. Baroclinic effects were important for circulation only in the regions with large horizontal salinity gradients associated with the fresh Alaskan and Siberian coastal currents and the Cape Lisburne and Great Siberian polynyas. In the polynyas, the baroclinic effects were due to strong salinification and convection processes associated with sea ice formation.

Sea ice response to atmospheric and oceanic forcing in the Bering Sea

Zhang, J., R. Woodgate, and R. Moritz, "Sea ice response to atmospheric and oceanic forcing in the Bering Sea," J. Phys. Oceanogr., 40, 1729-1747, doi:10.1175/2010JPO4323.1, 2010.

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1 Aug 2010

A coupled sea ice–ocean model is developed to quantify the sea ice response to changes in atmospheric and oceanic forcing in the Bering Sea over the period 1970–2008. The model captures much of the observed spatiotemporal variability of sea ice and sea surface temperature (SST) and the basic features of the upper-ocean circulation in the Bering Sea. Model results suggest that tides affect the spatial redistribution of ice mass by up to 0.1 m or 15% in the central-eastern Bering Sea by modifying ice motion and deformation and ocean flows.

The considerable interannual variability in the pattern and strength of winter northeasterly winds leads to southwestward ice mass advection during January–May, ranging from 0.9 x 1012 m3 in 1996 to 1.8 x 1012 m3 in 1976 and averaging 1.4 x 1012 m3, which is almost twice the January–May mean total ice volume in the Bering Sea. The large-scale southward ice mass advection is constrained by warm surface waters in the south that melt 1.5 x 1012 m3 of ice in mainly the ice-edge areas during January–May, with substantial interannual variability ranging from 0.94 x 1012 m3 in 1996 to 2.0 x 1012 m3 in 1976. Ice mass advection processes also enhance thermodynamic ice growth in the northern Bering Sea by increasing areas of open water and thin ice. Ice growth during January–May is 0.90 x 1012 m3 in 1996 and 2.1 x 1012 m3 in 1976, averaging 1.3 x 1012 m3 over 1970–2008. Thus, the substantial interannual variability of the Bering Sea ice cover is dominated by changes in the wind-driven ice mass advection and the ocean thermal front at the ice edge.

The observed ecological regime shifts in the Bering Sea occurred with significant changes in sea ice, surface air temperature, and SST, which in turn are correlated with the Pacific decadal oscillation over 1970–2008 but not with other climate indices: Arctic Oscillation, North Pacific index, and El Nino–Southern Oscillation. This indicates that the PDO index may most effectively explain the regime shifts in the Bering Sea.

The Arctic: Ocean [in State of the Climate in 2009]

Proshutinsky, A., et al., including J. Morison, M. Steele, and R. Woodgate, "The Arctic: Ocean [in State of the Climate in 2009]," Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 91, S85-87, 2010.

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1 Jul 2010

This 20th annual State of the Climate report highlights the climate conditions that characterized 2009, including notable extreme events. In total, 37 Essential Climate Variables are reported to more completely characterize the State of the Climate in 2009.

The 2007 Bering Strait oceanic heat flux and anomalous Arctic sea-ice retreat

Woodgate, R.A., T. Weingartner, and R. Lindsay, "The 2007 Bering Strait oceanic heat flux and anomalous Arctic sea-ice retreat," Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, doi:10.1029/2009GL041621, 2010.

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7 Jan 2010

To illuminate the role of Pacific Waters in the 2007 Arctic sea-ice retreat, we use observational data to estimate Bering Strait volume and heat transports from 1991 to 2007. In 2007, both annual mean transport and temperatures are at record-length highs. Heat fluxes increase from 2001 to a 2007 maximum, 5–6 x 1020 J/yr. This is twice the 2001 heat flux, comparable to the annual shortwave radiative flux into the Chukchi Sea, and enough to melt 1/3rd of the 2007 seasonal Arctic sea-ice loss. We suggest the Bering Strait inflow influences sea-ice by providing a trigger for the onset of solar-driven melt, a conduit for oceanic heat into the Arctic, and (due to long transit times) a subsurface heat source within the Arctic in winter. The substantial interannual variability reflects temperature and transport changes, the latter (especially recently) being significantly affected by variability (> 0.2 Sv equivalent) in the Pacific-Arctic pressure-head driving the flow.

Confluence and mixing of Atlantic, Pacific and Siberian shelf water masses around the Mendeleev Ridge of the Arctic Ocean

Kikuchi, T., S. Nishino, R. Woodgate, B. Rabe, U. Schauer, and S. Pisarev, "Confluence and mixing of Atlantic, Pacific and Siberian shelf water masses around the Mendeleev Ridge of the Arctic Ocean," Eos Trans. AGU, 90, Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract GCS1A-0715, 2009.

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14 Dec 2009

Importance of the Arctic Ocean to the global thermohaline circulation has been increasing, presumably due to global warming. However, the circulation scheme of the Arctic Ocean is still highly uncertain. One of the key areas to understand the Arctic Ocean circulation is that around the Mendeleyev Ridge because Atlantic, Pacific, and Siberian shelf water masses meet around the area and are likely to flow into the central Arctic Ocean. Using hydrographic data observed around the Mendeleyev Ridge during the 2000s, distribution, characteristics, and mixing processes of these water masses around the Mendeleyev Ridge were examined to understand the circulation scheme of the Arctic Ocean.

In 2008, the front between Atlantic and Pacific water masses was clearly located at the western edge of Chukchi Rise. Some of the boundary current of Atlantic Water coming from the Eurasian side flows into the central Arctic Ocean along the Mendeleyev Ridge and the remainder goes along the Siberian shelf slope into the Canada Basin side. Siberian shelf water masses also flow into the central Arctic Ocean modified due to mixing with the Atlantic water and cold halocline water. It is interesting that no signal from Pacific-origin water masses can be found over the main stream of the Atlantic Water inflow to the central Arctic Ocean over the Mendeleyev Ridge, although the signals of summer/winter Pacific water masses were very clear over the Chukchi Plateau. Interannual variability in the distributions and characteristics of these water masses are discusses in this presentation and put into context with changes of atmospheric circulation pattern and recent sea ice reduction. In addition, we present preliminary results of R/V Mirai Arctic Ocean cruise during September-October 2009.

Analysis of the arctic system for freshwater cycle intensification: Observations and expectations

Rawlins, M.A., et al. including R.A. Woodgate, "Analysis of the arctic system for freshwater cycle intensification: Observations and expectations," Eos Trans. AGU, 90, Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract GC42A-05, 2009.

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6 Dec 2009

Hydrological cycle intensification is an expected manifestation of a warming climate. We examine the quantitative significance of changes in freshwater fluxes across observational time series alongside those from a suite of coupled general circulation models for both the terrestrial pan-Arctic and Arctic Ocean. Trends in terrestrial fluxes from observations and GCMs are consistently positive. Significant trends are not present for all of the observations. Upward trends in the GCMs exhibit a higher statistical significance owing to lower inter-annual variability and relatively long time period examined. This fact limits our confidence in the robustness of the changes. Oceanic fluxes are more uncertain due primarily to the lack of long-term observations. Where available, marine flux estimates over recent decades suggest some decrease in saltwater inflow to the Barents Sea, implying a decrease in freshwater outflow. A decline in freshwater storage across the central Arctic Ocean and suggestions that large-scale circulation plays a dominant role in freshwater trends raise questions as to whether oceanic flows are intensifying. Although the oceanic freshwater fluxes are highly variable and consistent trends are difficult to verify, other components of the arctic freshwater cycle do show consistent positive trends over recent decades. This broad-scale increase in freshwater fluxes presents strong evidence that the arctic hydrological cycle is experiencing intensification.

Observations of internal wave generation in the seasonally ice-free Arctic

Rainville, L., and R.A. Woodgate, "Observations of internal wave generation in the seasonally ice-free Arctic," Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, 10.1029/2009GL041291, 2009.

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2 Dec 2009

The Arctic is generally considered a low energy ocean. Using mooring data from the northern Chukchi Sea, we confirm that this is mainly because of sea-ice impeding input of wind energy into the ocean. When sea-ice is present, even strong storms do not induce significant oceanic response. However, during ice-free seasons, local storms drive strong inertial currents (>20 cm/s) that propagate throughout the water column and significantly deepen the surface mixed layer. The large vertical shear associated with summer inertial motions suggests a dominant role for localized and seasonal vertical mixing in Arctic Ocean dynamics. Our results imply that recent extensive summer sea-ice retreat will lead to significantly increased internal wave generation especially over the shelves and also possibly over deep waters. This internal wave activity will likely dramatically increase upper-layer mixing in large areas of the previously quiescent Arctic, with important ramifications for ecosystems and ocean dynamics.

The role of currents and sea ice in both slowly deposited central Arctic and rapidly deposited Chukchi-Alaskan margin sediments

Darby, D.A., J. Ortiz, L. Polyak, S. Lund, M. Jakobsson, and R.A. Woodgate, "The role of currents and sea ice in both slowly deposited central Arctic and rapidly deposited Chukchi-Alaskan margin sediments," Global Planet. Change, 68, 56-70, doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2009.02.007, 2009.

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1 Jul 2009

A study of three long cores from the outer shelf and continental slope north of Alaska in the Arctic Ocean indicate that localized drift deposits occur here with sedimentation rates of more than 1.5 m/kyr during the Holocene. Currents in this area average about 5–20 cm/s but can reach 100 cm/s and these velocities transport the sediment found in these cores primarily as intermittent suspended load. These high accumulation sediments form levee-like deposits associated with margins of canyons cutting across the shelf and slope. Unlike most textural investigations of Arctic sediment that focus on the coarser ice-rafted detritus (IRD), this paper focuses on the > 95% of the sediment, which is finer than 45 micrometers. The mean size of this fraction varies between 6 and 15 micrometers in Holocene sediments from the Chukchi–Alaskan shelf and slope with the higher values closer to shore. Analysis of detailed size distributions of these Holocene deposits are compared to 34 sediment samples collected from sea ice across the Arctic Ocean and to Holocene sediment from central Arctic Ocean cores and indicate that similar textural parameters occur in all of these sediments. Principal components of these size distributions indicate that sea ice is an important link between the shelves and the central Arctic. Factor scores indicate nearly identical components in the clay and fine silt size fractions but very different components in the coarse silt for sea ice sediment and central Arctic ridge sediments compared to shelf and continental slope deposits. Sea ice must contribute to sedimentation in both of these Arctic regions, but bottom currents dominate in the slope region, forming drift deposits.

Seasonal modification of the Arctic Ocean intermediate water layer off the eastern Laptev Sea continental shelf break

Dmitrenko, I.A., et al., including R.A. Woodgate, "Seasonal modification of the Arctic Ocean intermediate water layer off the eastern Laptev Sea continental shelf break," J. Geophys. Res., 114, doi:10.1029/2008JC005229, 2009.

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11 Jun 2009

Through the analysis of observational mooring data collected at the northeastern Laptev Sea continental slope in 2004–2007, we document a hydrographic seasonal signal in the intermediate Atlantic Water (AW) layer, with generally higher temperature and salinity from December–January to May–July and lower values from May–July to December–January. At the mooring position, this seasonal signal dominates, contributing up to 75% of the total variance.

Our data suggest that the entire AW layer down to at least 840 m is affected by seasonal cycling, although the strength of the seasonal signal in temperature and salinity reduces from 260 m (±0.25°C and ±0.025 psu) to 840 m (±0.05°C and ±0.005 psu). The seasonal velocity signal is substantially weaker, strongly masked by high-frequency variability, and lags the thermohaline cycle by 45–75 days. We hypothesize that our mooring record shows a time history of the along-margin propagation of the AW seasonal signal carried downstream by the AW boundary current. Our analysis suggests that the seasonal signal in the Fram Strait Branch of AW (FSBW) at 260 m is predominantly translated from Fram Strait, while the seasonality in the Barents Sea branch of AW (BSBW) domain (at 840 m) is attributed instead to the seasonal signal input from the Barents Sea. However, the characteristic signature of the BSBW seasonal dynamics observed through the entire AW layer leads us to speculate that BSBW also plays a role in seasonally modifying the properties of the FSBW.

Mesoscale Atlantic water eddy off the Laptev Sea continental slope carries the signature of upstream interaction

Dmitrenko, I.A., S.A. Kirillov, V.V. Ivanov, and R.A. Woodgate, "Mesoscale Atlantic water eddy off the Laptev Sea continental slope carries the signature of upstream interaction," J. Geophys. Res., 113, doi:10.1029/2007JC004491, 2008.

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2 Jul 2008

A mesoscale eddy formed by the interaction of inflows of Atlantic water (AW) from Fram Strait and the Barents Sea into the Arctic Ocean was observed in February 2005 off the Laptev Sea continental slope by a mooring equipped with a McLane Moored Profiler. The eddy was composed of two distinct, vertically aligned cores with a combined thickness of about 650 m. The upper core of approximately ambient density was warmer (2.6°C), saltier (34.88 psu), and vertically stably stratified. The lower core was cooler (0.1°C), fresher (34.81 psu), neutrally stratified and ~0.02 kg/m3 less dense than surrounding ambient water. The eddy, homogeneous out to a radius of at least 3.4 km, had a 14.5 km radius of maximum velocity, and an entire diameter of about 27 km.

We hypothesize that the eddy was formed by the confluence of the Fram Strait and Barents Sea AW inflows into the Arctic Ocean that takes place north of the Kara Sea, about 1100 km upstream from the mooring location. The eddy's vertical structure is likely maintained by salt fingering and diffusive convection. The numerical simulation of one-dimensional thermal and salt diffusion equations reasonably reproduces the evolution of the eddy thermohaline patterns from the hypothesized source area to the mooring location, suggesting that the vertical processes of double-diffusive and shear instabilities may be more important than lateral processes for the evolution of the eddy. The eddy is able to carry its thermohaline anomaly several thousand kilometers downstream from its source location.

Fresh-water fluxes via Pacific and Arctic outflows across the Canadian polar shelf

Melling, H., T.A. Agnew, K.K. Falkner, D.A. Greenberg, C.M. Lee, A. Munchow, B. Petrie, S.J. Prinsenberg, R.M. Samelson, and R.A. Woodgate, "Fresh-water fluxes via Pacific and Arctic outflows across the Canadian polar shelf," in Arctic-Subarctic Ocean Fluxes, edited by R.R. Dickson, J. Meincke, and P. Rhines, 193-248 (Springer: Dordrecht, 2008).

1 Jan 2008

The arctic freshwater system: Changes and impacts

White, D., et al. (including C. Lee, M. Steele, and R. Woodgate), "The arctic freshwater system: Changes and impacts," J. Geophys. Res., 112, doi:10.1029/2006JG000353, 2007.

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30 Nov 2007

Dramatic changes have been observed in the Arctic over the last century. Many of these involve the storage and cycling of fresh water. On land, precipitation and river discharge, lake abundance and size, glacier area and volume, soil moisture, and a variety of permafrost characteristics have changed. In the ocean, sea ice thickness and areal coverage have decreased and water mass circulation patterns have shifted, changing freshwater pathways and sea ice cover dynamics. Precipitation onto the ocean surface has also changed. Such changes are expected to continue, and perhaps accelerate, in the coming century, enhanced by complex feedbacks between the oceanic, atmospheric, and terrestrial freshwater systems. Change to the arctic freshwater system heralds changes for our global physical and ecological environment as well as human activities in the Arctic. In this paper we review observed changes in the arctic freshwater system over the last century in terrestrial, atmospheric, and oceanic systems.

Atlantic water circulation over the Mendeleev Ridge and Chukchi Borderland from thermohaline intrusions and water mass properties

Woodgate, R.A., K. Aagaard, J.H. Swift, W.M. Smethie, and K.K. Falkner, "Atlantic water circulation over the Mendeleev Ridge and Chukchi Borderland from thermohaline intrusions and water mass properties," J. Geophys. Res., 112, doi:10.1029/2005JC003516, 2007.

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3 Feb 2007

Hydrographic and tracer data from 2002 illustrate Atlantic water pathways and variability in the Mendeleev Ridge and Chukchi Borderland (CBLMR) region of the Arctic Ocean. Thermohaline double diffusive intrusions (zigzags) dominate both the Fram Strait (FSBW) and Barents Sea Branch Waters (BSBW) in the region. We show that details of the zigzags' temperature-salinity structure partially describe the water masses forming the intrusions. Furthermore, as confirmed by chemical tracers, the zigzags' peaks contain the least altered water, allowing assessment of the temporal history of the Atlantic waters. Whilst the FSBW shows the 1990s warming and then a slight cooling, the BSBW has continuously cooled and freshened over a similar time period. The newest boundary current waters are found west of the Mendeleev Ridge in 2002. Additionally, we show the zigzag structures can fingerprint various water masses, including the boundary current. Using this, tracer data and the advection of the 1990s warming, we conclude the strongly topographically steered boundary current, order 50 km wide and found between the 1500 m and 2500 m isobaths, crosses the Mendeleev Ridge north of 80°N, loops south around the Chukchi Abyssal Plain and north around the Chukchi Rise, with the 1990s warming having reached the northern (but not the southern) Northwind Ridge by 2002. Pacific waters influence the Atlantic layers near the shelf and over the Chukchi Rise. The Northwind Abyssal Plain is comparatively stagnant, being ventilated only slowly from the north. There is no evidence of significant boundary current flow through the Chukchi Gap.

Arctic boundary currents over the Chukchi and Beaufort slope seas: Observational snapshots, transports, scales and spatial variability from ADCP surveys

Muenchow, A., R.S. Pickart, T. Weingartner, R.A. Woodgate, and D. Kadko, "Arctic boundary currents over the Chukchi and Beaufort slope seas: Observational snapshots, transports, scales and spatial variability from ADCP surveys," Eos Trans. AGU, 87, Abstr. OS33N-03, 2006.

1 Dec 2006

Boundary current circulation in the Mendeleev Ridge and Shukchi Borderland region of the Arctic Ocean: Atlantic water zigzags and the influence of shelf processes at the arctic crossroads

Woodgate, R.A., K. Aagaard, J.H. Swift, W.M. Smethie, and K.K. Falkner, "Boundary current circulation in the Mendeleev Ridge and Shukchi Borderland region of the Arctic Ocean: Atlantic water zigzags and the influence of shelf processes at the arctic crossroads," Eos Trans. AGU, 87(Abstr.), S33N-02, 2006.

1 Dec 2006

Control of the Bering Strait throughflow and its salinity

Aagaard, K., R.A. Woodgate, T.J. Weingartner, "Control of the Bering Strait throughflow and its salinity," Eos Trans. AGU, 87, Abstr. 0332P-06, 2006.

1 Dec 2006

The large-scale freshwater cycle of the Arctic

Serreze, M.C., A.P. Barrett, A.G. Slater, R.A. Woodgate, K. Aagaard, R.B. Lammers, M. Steele, R. Moritz, M. Meredith, and C.M. Lee, "The large-scale freshwater cycle of the Arctic," J. Geophys. Res., 111, 10.1029/2005JC003424, 2006.

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21 Nov 2006

This paper synthesizes our understanding of the Arctic's large-scale freshwater cycle. It combines terrestrial and oceanic observations with insights gained from the ERA-40 reanalysis and land surface and ice-ocean models. Annual mean freshwater input to the Arctic Ocean is dominated by river discharge (38%), inflow through Bering Strait (30%), and net precipitation (24%). Total freshwater export from the Arctic Ocean to the North Atlantic is dominated by transports through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (35%) and via Fram Strait as liquid (26%) and sea ice (25%). All terms are computed relative to a reference salinity of 34.8. Compared to earlier estimates, our budget features larger import of freshwater through Bering Strait and larger liquid phase export through Fram Strait. While there is no reason to expect a steady state, error analysis indicates that the difference between annual mean oceanic inflows and outflows (~8% of the total inflow) is indistinguishable from zero. Freshwater in the Arctic Ocean has a mean residence time of about a decade. This is understood in that annual freshwater input, while large ~8500 km3), is an order of magnitude smaller than oceanic freshwater storage of ~84,000 km3. Freshwater in the atmosphere, as water vapor, has a residence time of about a week. Seasonality in Arctic Ocean freshwater storage is nevertheless highly uncertain, reflecting both sparse hydrographic data and insufficient information on sea ice volume. Uncertainties mask seasonal storage changes forced by freshwater fluxes. Of flux terms with sufficient data for analysis, Fram Strait ice outflow shows the largest interannual variability.

Some controls on flow and salinity in Bering Strait

Aagaard, K., T.J. Weingartner, S.L. Danielson, R.A. Woodgate, G.C. Johnson, and T.E. Whitledge, "Some controls on flow and salinity in Bering Strait," Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, 10.1029/2006GL026612, 2006.

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3 Oct 2006

During 1993–1994, steric forcing of flow through Bering Strait represented a northward sea level drop of ~0.7 m from the Bering Sea Basin to the adjacent deep Arctic Ocean, of which ~2/3 was due to the salinity difference between the basins. Seasonal variability of steric forcing appears small (<0.05 m), in contrast to large seasonal wind effects. Interannual changes in steric forcing may exceed 20%, however, and warm inflow from the North Atlantic, accumulation of freshwater in the southwest Canada Basin, and temperature and salinity changes in the upper Bering Sea have all contributed to recent changes. The mean salinity balance in Bering Strait is primarily maintained by large runoff to the Bering shelf, dilute coastal inflow from the Gulf of Alaska, and on-shelf movement of saline and nutrient-rich oceanic waters from the Bering Sea Basin. In Bering Strait, therefore, both the throughflow and its salinity are affected by remote events.

Interannual changes in the Bering Strait fluxes of volume, heat and freshwater between 1991 and 2004

Woodgate, R.A., K. Aagaard, and T.J. Weingartner, "Interannual changes in the Bering Strait fluxes of volume, heat and freshwater between 1991 and 2004," Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, 10.1029/2006GL026931, 2006.

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15 Aug 2006

Year-round moorings (1990 to 2004) illustrate interannual variability of Bering Strait volume, freshwater and heat fluxes, which affect Arctic systems including sea ice. Fluxes are lowest in 2001 and increase to 2004. Whilst 2004 freshwater and volume fluxes match previous maxima (1998), the 2004 heat flux is the highest recorded, partly due to ~0.5°C warmer temperatures since 2002. The Alaskan Coastal Current, contributing about 1/3rd of the heat and 1/4th of the freshwater fluxes, also shows strong warming and freshening between 2002 and 2004. The increased Bering Strait heat input between 2001 and 2004 (>2 x 1020 J) could melt 640,000 km2 of 1-m thick ice; the 3-year freshwater increase (~800 km3) is about 1/4th of annual Arctic river run-off. Weaker southward winds likely explain the increased volume flux (~0.7 to ~1 Sv), causing ~80% of the freshwater and ~50% of the heat flux increases.

The influence of sea ice on ocean heat uptake in response to increasing CO2

Bitz, C.M., P.R. Gent, R.A. Woodgate, M.M. Holland, and R.A. Lindsay, "The influence of sea ice on ocean heat uptake in response to increasing CO2," J. Clim., 19, 2437-2450, doi:10.1175/JCLI3756.1, 2006.

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1 Jun 2006

Two significant changes in ocean heat uptake that occur in the vicinity of sea ice cover in response to increasing CO2 are investigated with Community Climate System Model version 3 (CCSM3): a deep warming below ~500 m and extending down several kilometers in the Southern Ocean and warming in a ~200-m layer just below the surface in the Arctic Ocean. Ocean heat uptake caused by sea ice retreat is isolated by running the model with the sea ice albedo reduced artificially alone. This integration has a climate response with strong ocean heat uptake in the Southern Ocean and modest ocean heat uptake in the subsurface Arctic Ocean.

The Arctic Ocean warming results from enhanced ocean heat transport from the northern North Atlantic. At the time of CO2 doubling, about 1/3 of the heat transport anomaly results from advection of anomalously warm water and 2/3 results from strengthened inflow. At the same time the overturning circulation is strengthened in the northern North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. Wind stress changes cannot explain the circulation changes, which instead appear related to strengthened convection along the Siberian shelves.

Deep ocean warming in the Southern Ocean is initiated by weakened convection, which is mainly a result of surface freshening through altered sea ice and ocean freshwater transport. Below about 500 m, changes in convection reduce the vertical and meridional temperature gradients in the Southern Ocean, which significantly reduce isopycnal diffusion of heat upward around Antarctica. The geometry of the sea ice cover and its influence on convection have a strong influence on ocean temperature gradients, making sea ice an important player in deep ocean heat uptake in the Southern Ocean.

A year in the physical oceanography of the Chukchi Sea. Moored measurements from autumn 1990-1991

Woodgate, R.A., K. Aagaard, and T.J. Weingartner, "A year in the physical oceanography of the Chukchi Sea. Moored measurements from autumn 1990-1991," Deep-Sea Res. II, 52, 3116-3149, doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2005.10.016, 2005

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1 Dec 2005

Year-long time-series of temperature, salinity and velocity from 12 locations throughout the Chukchi Sea from September 1990 to October 1991 document physical transformations and significant seasonal changes in the throughflow from the Pacific to the Arctic Ocean for one year. In most of the Chukchi, the flow field responds rapidly to the local wind, with high spatial coherence over the basin scale — effectively the ocean takes on the lengthscales of the wind forcing. Although weekly transport variability is very large (ca. –2 to 3 Sv), the mean flow is northwards, opposed by the mean wind (which is southward), but presumably forced by a sea-level slope between the Pacific and the Arctic, which these data suggest may have significant variability on long (order a year) timescales. The high flow variability yields a significant range of residence times for waters in the Chukchi (i.e. one to six months for half the transit) with the larger values applicable in winter.

Temperature and salinity (TS) records show a strong annual cycle of freezing, salinization, freshening and warming, with sizable interannual variability. The largest seasonal variability is seen in the east, where warm, fresh waters escape from the buoyant, coastally trapped Alaskan Coastal Current into the interior Chukchi. In the west, the seasonally present Siberian Coastal Current provides a source of cold, fresh waters and a flow field less linked to the local wind. Cold, dense polynya waters are observed near Cape Lisburne and occasional upwelling events bring lower Arctic Ocean halocline waters to the head of Barrow Canyon. For about half the year, at least at depth, the entire Chukchi is condensed into a small region of TS-space at the freezing temperature, suggesting ventilation occurs to near-bottom, driven by cooling and brine rejection in autumn/winter and by storm-mixing all year.

In 1990–1991, the ca. 0.8 Sv annual mean inflow through Bering Strait exits the Chukchi in four outflows — via Long Strait, Herald Valley, the Central Channel, and Barrow Canyon — each outflow being comparable (order 0.1–0.3 Sv) and showing significant changes in volume and water properties (and hence equilibrium depth in the Arctic Ocean) throughout the year. The clearest seasonal cycle in properties and flow is in Herald Valley, where the outflow is only weakly related to the local wind. In this one year, the outflows ventilate above and below (but not in) the Arctic halocline mode of 33.1 psu. A volumetric comparison with Bering Strait indicates significant cooling during transit through the Chukchi, but remarkably little change in salinity, at least in the denser waters. This suggests that, with the exception of (in this year small) polynya events, the salinity cycle in the Chukchi can be considered as being set by the input through Bering Strait and thus, since density is dominated by salinity at these temperatures, Bering Strait salinities are a reasonable predictor of ventilation of the Arctic Ocean.

Circulation on the north central Chukchi Sea shelf

Weingartner, T., K. Aagaard, R. Woodgate, S. Danielson, Y. Sasaki, and D. Cavalieri, "Circulation on the north central Chukchi Sea shelf," Deep-Sea Res. II, 52, 3150-3174, 2005

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1 Dec 2005

Mooring and shipboard data collected between 1992 and 1995 delineate the circulation over the north central Chukchi shelf. Previous studies indicated that Pacific waters crossed the Chukchi shelf through Herald Valley (in the west) and Barrow Canyon (in the east). We find a third branch (through the Central Channel) onto the outer shelf. The Central Channel transport varies seasonally in phase with Bering Strait transport, and is ~0.2 Sv on average, although some of this might include water entrained from the outflow through Herald Valley. A portion of the Central Channel outflow moves eastward and converges with the Alaskan Coastal Current at the head of Barrow Canyon. The remainder appears to continue northeastward over the central outer shelf toward the shelfbreak, joined by outflow from Herald Valley. The mean flow opposes the prevailing winds and is primarily forced by the sea-level slope between the Pacific and Arctic oceans. Current variations are mainly wind forced, but baroclinic forcing, associated with upstream dense-water formation in coastal polynyas might occasionally be important.

Winter water-mass modification depends crucially on the fall and winter winds, which control seasonal ice development. An extensive fall ice cover delays cooling, limits new ice formation, and results in little salinization. In such years, Bering shelf waters cross the Chukchi shelf with little modification. In contrast, extensive open water in fall leads to early and rapid cooling, and if accompanied by vigorous ice production within coastal polynyas, results in the production of high-salinity (>33) shelf waters. Such interannual variability likely affects slope processes and the transport of Pacific waters into the Arctic Ocean interior.

Pacific ventilation of the Arctic Ocean's lower halocline by upwelling and diapycnal mixing over the continental margin

Woodgate, R.A., K. Aagaard, J.H. Swift, K.K. Falkner, and W.M. Smethie, "Pacific ventilation of the Arctic Ocean's lower halocline by upwelling and diapycnal mixing over the continental margin," Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, 10.1029/2005GL023999, 2005

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29 Sep 2005

Pacific winter waters, a major source of nutrients and buoyancy to the Arctic Ocean, are thought to ventilate the Arctic's lower halocline either by injection (isopycnal or penetrative) of cold saline shelf waters, or by cooling and freshening Atlantic waters upwelled onto the shelf. Although ventilation at salinity (S) > 34 psu has previously been attributed to hypersaline polynya waters, temperature, salinity, nutrient and tracer data suggest instead that much of the western Arctic's lower halocline is in fact influenced by a diapycnal mixing of Pacific winter waters (with S ~ 33.1 psu) and denser eastern Arctic halocline (Atlantic) waters, the mixing taking place possibly over the northern Chukchi shelf/slope. Estimates from observational data confirm that sufficient quantities of Atlantic water may be upwelled to mix with the inflowing Pacific waters, with volumes implying the halocline over the Chukchi Borderland region may be renewed on timescales of order a year.

Dissolved oxygen extrema in the Arctic Ocean halocline from the North Pole to the Lincoln Sea

Falkner, K.K., M. Steele, R.A. Woodgate, J.H. Swift, K. Aagaard, and J. Morison, "Dissolved oxygen extrema in the Arctic Ocean halocline from the North Pole to the Lincoln Sea," Deep Sea Res. I, 52, 1138-1154, doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2005.01.007, 2005

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30 Jul 2005

Dissolved oxygen (O2) profiling by new generation sensors was conducted in the Arctic Ocean via aircraft during May 2003 as part of the North Pole Environmental Observatory (NPEO) and Freshwater Switchyard (SWYD) projects. At stations extending from the North Pole to the shelf off Ellesmere Island, such profiles display what appear to be various O2 maxima (with concentrations 70% of saturation or less) over depths of 70–110 m in the halocline, corresponding to salinity and temperature ranges of 33.3–33.9 and ~1.7 to ~1.5°C. The features appear to be widely distributed: Similar features based on bottle data were recently reported for a subset of the 1997–1998 SHEBA stations in the southern Canada Basin and in recent Beaufort Sea sensor profiles. Oxygen sensor data from August 2002 Chukchi Borderlands (CBL) and 1994 Arctic Ocean Section (AOS) projects suggest that such features arise from interleaving of shelf-derived, O2-depleted waters. This generates apparent oxygen maxima in Arctic Basin profiles that would otherwise trend more smoothly from near-saturation at the surface to lower concentrations at depth. For example, in the Eurasian Basin, relatively low O2 concentrations are observed at salinities of about 34.2 and 34.7. The less saline variant is identified as part of the lower halocline, a layer originally identified by a Eurasian Basin minimum in "NO," which, in the Canadian Basin, is reinforced by additional inputs. The more saline and thus denser variant appears to arise from transformations of Atlantic source waters over the Barents and/or Kara shelves. Additional low-oxygen waters are generated in the vicinity of the Chukchi Borderlands, from Pacific shelf water outflows that interleave with Eurasian waters that flow over the Lomonosov Ridge into the Makarov Basin and then into the Canada Basin. One such input is associated with the well-known silicate maximum that historically has been associated with a salinity of %u224833.1. Above that (322-depleted.

We propose that these low O2 waters influence the NPEO and SWYD profiles to varying extents in a manner reflective of the large-scale circulation. The patterns of halocline circulation we infer from the intrusive features defy a simple boundary-following cyclonic flow. These results demonstrate the value of the improved resolution made feasible with continuous O2 profiling. In the drive to better understand variability and change in the Arctic Ocean, deployment of appropriately calibrated CTD-O2 packages offers the promise of important new insights into circulation and ecosystem function.

Monthly temperature, salinity, and transport variability of the Bering Strait through flow

Woodgate, R.A., K. Aagaard, and T.J. Weingartner, "Monthly temperature, salinity, and transport variability of the Bering Strait through flow," Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, 10.1029/2004GL021880, 2005.

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16 Feb 2005

The Bering Strait through flow is important for the Chukchi Sea and the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. A realistic assessment of through flow properties is also necessary for validation and boundary conditions of high-resolution ocean models. From 14 years of moored measurements, we construct a monthly climatology of temperature, salinity and transport. The strong seasonality in all properties (–31.9 to 33 psu, ~ –1.8 to 2.3°C and ~0.4 to 1.2 Sv) dominates the Chukchi Sea hydrography and implies significant seasonal variability in the equilibrium depth and ventilation properties of Pacific waters in the Arctic Ocean. Interannual variability is large in temperature and salinity. Although missing some significant events, an empirical linear fit to a local (model) wind yields a reasonable reconstruction of the water velocity, and we use the coefficients of this fit to estimate the magnitude of the Pacific-Arctic pressure-head forcing of the Bering Strait through flow.

Revising the Bering Strait freshwater flux into the Arctic Ocean

Woodgate, R.A., and K. Aagaard, "Revising the Bering Strait freshwater flux into the Arctic Ocean," Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, 10.1029/2004GL021747, doi:10.1029/2004GL021747, 2005

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20 Jan 2005

The freshwater flux through the Bering Strait into the Arctic Ocean is important regionally and globally, e.g. for Chukchi Sea hydrography, Arctic Ocean stratification, the global freshwater cycle, and the stability of the Atlantic overturning circulation. Aagaard and Carmack [1989] estimated the Bering Strait freshwater flux as 1670 km3/yr (relative to 34.8 psu), assuming an annual mean transport (0.8 Sv) and salinity (32.5 psu). This is ~1/3rd of the total freshwater input to the Arctic. Using long-term moored measurements and ship-based observations, we show that this is a substantial underestimate of the freshwater flux. Specifically, the warm, fresh Alaskan Coastal Current in the eastern Bering Strait may add ~400 km3/yr. Seasonal stratification and ice transport may add another ~400 km3/yr. Combined, these corrections are larger than the interannual variability observed by near-bottom measurements and near-surface measurements will be necessary to quantify this flux and its interannual variability.

Dissolved oxygen extrema in the Arctic Ocean halocline from the North Pole to the Lincoln Sea

Falkner, K.K., M. Steele, R.A. Woodgate, J.H. Swift, K. Aagaard, and J. Morison, "Dissolved oxygen extrema in the Arctic Ocean halocline from the North Pole to the Lincoln Sea," Eos Trans. AGU, 85(47), Abstract OS41A-0465, 2004.

15 Dec 2004

Increased heat transport into the Arctic Ocean in a climate model of the 21st century

Bitz, C.M., and R.A. Woodgate, "Increased heat transport into the Arctic Ocean in a climate model of the 21st century," Eos Trans. AGU, 85(47), Abstract OS34A-07, 2004.

15 Dec 2004

The freshwater flux to the Arctic via the Bering Strait

Woodgate, R.A., and K. Aagaard, "The freshwater flux to the Arctic via the Bering Strait," Eos Trans. AGU, 85(47), Abstract C54A-04, 2004.

15 Dec 2004

Halo of low ice concentration observed over the Maud Rise seamount

Lindsay, R.W., D.M. Holland, and R.A. Woodgate, "Halo of low ice concentration observed over the Maud Rise seamount," Geophys. Res. Lett., 31, 10.1029/2004GL019831, 2004.

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1 Jul 2004

A distinctive halo of low sea ice concentration has been observed above the Maud Rise seamount in the eastern Weddell Sea. The 300-km circular halo is seen most clearly in the monthly mean ice concentration for the months July through November. The mean was computed from satellite-based passive microwave measurements over a 23-year period. The halo is most distinct in October; even then, however, the mean ice concentration in the halo is just 10% less than in the center, where it is very near 100%. The halo may reflect the existence of a Taylor cap circulation over the seamount or other topographically induced mechanisms.

Ice shelf water overflow and bottom water formation in the southern Weddell Sea

Foldvik, A., T. Gammelsrod, S. Osterhus, E. Fahrback, G. Rohardt, M. Schroder, K.W. Nicholls, L. Padman, and R.A. Woodgate, "Ice shelf water overflow and bottom water formation in the southern Weddell Sea," J. Geophys. Res., 109, C02015, 10.1029/2003JC002008, 2004.

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17 Feb 2004

Cold shelf waters flowing out of the Filchner Depression in the southern Weddell Sea make a significant contribution to the production of Weddell Sea Bottom Water (WSBW), a precursor to Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW). We use all available current meter records from the region to calculate the flux of cold water (<–1.9°C) over the sill at the northern end of the Filchner Depression (1.6 ± 0.5 Sv), and to determine its fate. The estimated fluxes and mixing rates imply a rate of WSBW formation (referenced to –0.8°C) of 4.3 ± 1.4 Sv. We identify three pathways for the cold shelf waters to enter the deep Weddell Sea circulation. One path involves flow constrained to follow the shelf break. The other two paths are down the continental slope, resulting from the cold dense water being steered northward by prominent ridges that cross the continental slope near 36°W and 37°W. Mooring data indicate that the deep plumes can retain their core characteristics to depths greater than 2000 m. Probably aided by thermobaricity, the plume water at this depth can flow at a speed approaching 1 m s-1, implying that the flow is occasionally supercritical. We postulate that such supercriticality acts to limit mixing between the plume and its environment. The transition from supercritical to slower, more uniform flow is associated with very efficient mixing, probably as a result of hydraulic jumps.

Water mass modification over the continental shelf north of Ronne Ice Shelf, Antarctica

Nicholls, K.W., L. Padman, M. Schroder, R.A. Woodgate, A. Jenkins, and S. Østerhus, "Water mass modification over the continental shelf north of Ronne Ice Shelf, Antarctica," J. Geophys. Res., 108, 10.1029/2002JC001713, 2003.

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13 Aug 2003

We use new data from the southern Weddell Sea continental shelf to describe water mass conversion processes in a formation region for cold and dense precursors of Antarctic Bottom Water. The cruises took place in early 1995, 1998, and 1999, and the time series obtained from moored instruments were up to 30 months in length, starting in 1995. We obtained new bathymetric data that greatly improve our definition of the Ronne Depression, which is now shown to be limited to the southwestern continental shelf and so cannot act as a conduit to northward flow from Ronne Ice Front. Large-scale intrusions of Modified Warm Deep Water (MWDW) onto the continental shelf occur along much of the shelf break, although there is only one location where the MWDW extends as far south as Ronne Ice Front. High-Salinity Shelf Water (HSSW) produced during the winter months dominates the continental shelf in the west. During summer, Ice Shelf Water (ISW) exits the subice cavity on the eastern side of the Ronne Depression, flows northwest along the ice front, and reenters the cavity at the ice front's western limit. During winter the ISW is not observed in the Ronne Depression north of the ice front. The flow of HSSW into the subice cavity via the Ronne Depression is estimated to be 0.9 ± 0.3 Sv. When combined with inflows along the remainder of Ronne Ice Front (reported elsewhere), sufficient heat is transported beneath the ice shelf to power an average basal melt rate of 0.34 ± 0.1 m yr-1.

Evolution of a 'poleward undercurrent' over the continental slope off arctic Alaska

Muenchow, A., R. Pickart, and R. Woodgate, "Evolution of a 'poleward undercurrent' over the continental slope off arctic Alaska," Eos Trans. AGU, 84(52), Abstract OS31C-02, 2003.

1 Jun 2003

North Pole Environmental Observatory delivers early results

Morison, J.H., K. Aagaard, K.K. Falkner, K. Hatakeyama, R. Mortiz, J.E. Overland, D. Perovich, K. Shimada, M. Steele, T. Takizawa, and R. Woodgate, "North Pole Environmental Observatory delivers early results," Eos Trans. AGU, 83, 357-361, 2002.

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1 Aug 2002

Scientists have argued for a number of years that the Arctic may be a sensitive indicator of global change, but prior to the 1990s, conditions there were believed to be largely static. This has changed in the last 10 years. Decadal-scale changes have occurred in the atmosphere, in the ocean, and on land [Serreze et al., 2000]. Surface atmospheric pressure has shown a declining trend over the Arctic, resulting in a clockwise spin-up of the atmospheric polar vortex. In the 1990s, the Arctic Ocean circulation took on a more cyclonic character, and the temperature of Atlantic water in the Arctic Ocean was found to be the highest in 50 years of observation [Morison et al., 2000]. Sea-ice thickness over much of the Arctic decreased 43% in 1958–1976 and 1993–1997 [Rothrock et al., 1999].

Atlantic meets Pacific at an arctic crossroads

Woodgate, R.A. K. Aagaard, J. Swift, B. Smethie, and K. Falkner, "Atlantic meets Pacific at an arctic crossroads," Witness the Arctic, 9, 2002.

1 Jun 2002

The Arctic Ocean Boundary Current along the Eurasian slope and adjacent to the Lomonosov Ridge: Water mass properties, transports and transformations from moored instruments

Woodgate, R.A., K. Aagaard, R.D. Muench, J. Gunn, G. Bjork, B. Rudels, A.T. Roach, U. Schauer, "The Arctic Ocean Boundary Current along the Eurasian slope and adjacent to the Lomonosov Ridge: Water mass properties, transports and transformations from moored instruments," Deep Sea Res. I, 48, 1757-1792, 2001.

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1 Aug 2001

Year-long (summer 1995 to 1996) time series of temperature, salinity and current velocity from three slope sites spanning the junction of the Lomonosov Ridge with the Eurasian continent are used to quantify the water properties, transformations and transport of the boundary current of the Arctic Ocean. The mean flow is cyclonic, weak (1 to 5 cm s-1), predominantly aligned along isobaths and has an equivalent barotropic structure in the vertical. We estimate the transport of the boundary current in the Eurasian Basin to be 5 ± 1 Sv . About half of this flow is diverted north along the Eurasian Basin side of the Lomonosov Ridge. The warm waters (>1.4°C) of the Atlantic layer are also found on the Canadian Basin side of the ridge south of 86.5°N, but not north of this latitude. This suggests that the Atlantic layer crosses the ridge at various latitudes south of 86.5°N and flows southward along the Canadian Basin side of the ridge.

Temperature and salinity records indicate a small (0.02 Sv), episodic flow of Canadian Basin deep water into the Eurasian Basin at ~1700 m, providing a possible source for an anomalous eddy observed in the Amundsen Basin in 1996. There is also a similar flow of Eurasian Basin deep water into the Canadian Basin. Both flows probably pass through a gap in the Lomonosov Ridge at 80.4°N.

A cooling and freshening of the Atlantic layer, observed at all three moorings, is attributed to changes (in temperature and salinity and/or volume) in the outflow from the Barents Sea the previous winter, possibly caused by an observed increased flow of ice from the Arctic Ocean into the Barents Sea. The change in water properties, which advects at ~5 cm s-1 along the southern edge of the Eurasian Basin, also strengthens the cold halocline layer and increases the stability of the upper ocean. This suggests a feedback in which ice exported from the Arctic Ocean into the Barents Sea promotes ice growth elsewhere in the Arctic Ocean.

The strongest currents recorded at the moorings (up to 40 cm s-1) are related to eddy features which are predominantly anticyclonic and, with a few exceptions, are of two main types: cold core eddies, confined to the upper 100–300 m, probably formed on the shelf, and warm core eddies of greater vertical extent, probably related to instabilities of an upstream front.

Some thoughts on the freezing and melting of sea ice and their effects on the ocean

Aagaard, K. and R.A. Woodgate, "Some thoughts on the freezing and melting of sea ice and their effects on the ocean," Ocean Modelling, 3, 127-135, 2001.

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31 May 2001

The high-latitude freezing and melting cycle can variously result in haline convection, freshwater capping or freshwater injection into the interior ocean. An example of the latter process is a secondary salinity minimum near 800 m-depth within the Arctic Ocean that results from the transformation on the Barents Sea shelf of Atlantic water from the Norwegian Sea and its subsequent intrusion into the Arctic Ocean. About one-third of the freshening on the shelf of that initially saline water appears to result from ice melt, although the actual sea ice flux is small, only about 0.005 Sv. A curious feature of this process is that water distilled at the surface of the Arctic Ocean by freezing ends up at mid-depth in the same ocean. This is a consequence of the ice being exported southward onto the shelf, melted, and then entrained into the northward Barents Sea throughflow that subsequently sinks into the Arctic Ocean. Prolonged reduction in sea ice in the region and in the concomitant freshwater injection would likely result in a warmer and more saline interior Arctic Ocean below 800 m.

The flow of bottom water in the northwestern Weddell Sea

Fahrbach, E., S. Harms, G. Rohardt, M. Schroeder, and R.A. Woodgate, "The flow of bottom water in the northwestern Weddell Sea," J. Geophys. Res., 106, 2761-2778, 2000.

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15 Feb 2001

The Weddell Sea is known to feed recently formed deep and bottom water into the Antarctic circumpolar water belt, from whence it spreads into the basins of the world ocean. The rates are still a matter of debate. To quantify the flow of bottom water in the northwestern Weddell Sea data obtained during five cruises with R/V Polarstern between October 1989 and May 1998 were used. During the cruises in the Weddell Sea, five hydrographic surveys were carried out to measure water mass properties, and moored instruments were deployed over a time period of 8.5 years to obtain quasi-continuous time series. The average flow in the bottom water plume in the northwestern Weddell Sea deduced from the combined conductivity-temperature-depth and moored observations is 1.3±0.4 Sv. Intensive fluctuations of a wide range of timescales including annual and interannual variations are superimposed. The variations are partly induced by fluctuations in the formation rates and partly by current velocity fluctuations related to the large-scale circulation. Taking into account entrainment of modified Warm Deep Water and Weddell Sea Deep Water during the descent of the plume along the slope, between 0.5 Sv and 1.3 Sv of surface-ventilated water is supplied to the deep sea. This is significantly less than the widely accepted ventilation rates of the deep sea. If there are no other significant sources of newly ventilated water in the Weddell Sea, either the dominant role of Weddell Sea Bottom Water in the Southern Ocean or the global ventilation rates have to be reconsidered.

The water mass distribution in Fram Strait and over the Yermak Plateau in summer 1997

Rudels, B., R. Meyer, E. Fahrbach, V. Ivanov, S. Osterhus, D. Quadfasel, U. Schauer, V. Tverburg, and R.A. Woodgate, "The water mass distribution in Fram Strait and over the Yermak Plateau in summer 1997," Ann. Geophysicae, 18, 687-705, doi:10.1007/s00585-000-0687-5, 2000.

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1 Oct 2000

The water mass distribution in northern Fram Strait and over the Yermak Plateau in summer 1997 is described using CTD data from two cruises in the area. The West Spitsbergen Current was found to split, one part recirculated towards the west, while the other part, on entering the Arctic Ocean separated into two branches. The main inflow of Atlantic Water followed the Svalbard continental slope eastward, while a second, narrower, branch stayed west and north of the Yermak Plateau. The water column above the southeastern flank of the Yermak Plateau was distinctly colder and less saline than the two inflow branches. Immediately west of the outer inflow branch comparatively high temperatures in the Atlantic Layer suggested that a part of the extraordinarily warm Atlantic Water, observed in the boundary current in the Eurasian Basin in the early 1990s, was now returning, within the Eurasian Basin, toward Fram Strait. The upper layer west of the Yermak Plateau was cold, deep and comparably saline, similar to what has recently been observed in the interior Eurasian Basin. Closer to the Greenland continental slope the salinity of the upper layer became much lower, and the temperature maximum of the Atlantic Layer was occasionally below 0.5°C, indicating water masses mainly derived from the Canadian Basin. This implies that the warm pulse of Atlantic Water had not yet made a complete circuit around the Arctic Ocean. The Atlantic Water of the West Spitsbergen Current recirculating within the strait did not extend as far towards Greenland as in the 1980s, leaving a broader passage for waters from the Atlantic and intermediate layers, exiting the Arctic Ocean. A possible interpretation is that the circulation pattern alternates between a strong recirculation of the West Spitsbergen Current in the strait, and a larger exchange of Atlantic Water between the Nordic Seas and the inner parts of the Arctic Ocean.

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