Academic Journals Database
Disseminating quality controlled scientific knowledge

Time and space variability of freshwater content, heat content and seasonal ice melt in the Arctic Ocean from 1991 to 2011

Author(s): M. Korhonen | B. Rudels | M. Marnela | A. Wisotzki | J. Zhao

Journal: Ocean Science Discussions (OSD)
ISSN 1812-0806

Volume: 9;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 2621;
Date: 2012;
VIEW PDF   PDF DOWNLOAD PDF   Download PDF Original page

The Arctic Ocean gains freshwater mainly through river discharge, precipitation and the inflowing low salinity waters from the Pacific Ocean. In addition the recent reduction in sea ice volume is likely to influence the surface salinity and thus contribute to the freshwater content in the upper ocean. The present day freshwater storage in the Arctic Ocean appears to be sufficient to maintain the upper ocean stratification and to protect the sea ice from the deep ocean heat content. The recent freshening has not, despite the established strong stratification, been able to restrain the accelerating ice loss and other possible heat sources besides the Atlantic Water, such as the waters advecting from the Pacific Ocean and the solar insolation warming the Polar Mixed Layer, are investigated. Since the ongoing freshening, oceanic heat sources and the sea ice melt are closely related, this study, based on hydrographic observations, attempts to examine the ongoing variability in time and space in relation to these three properties. The largest time and space variability of freshwater content occurs in the Polar Mixed Layer and the upper halocline. The freshening of the upper ocean during the 2000s is ubiquitous in the Arctic Ocean although the most substantial increase occurs in the Canada Basin where the freshwater is accumulating in the thickening upper halocline. Whereas the salinity of the upper halocline is nearly constant, the freshwater content in the Polar Mixed Layer is increasing due to decreasing salinity. The decrease in salinity is likely to result from the recent changes in ice formation and melting. In contrast, in the Eurasian Basin where the seasonal ice melt has remained rather modest, the freshening of both the Polar Mixed Layer and the upper halocline is mainly of advective origin. While the warming of the Atlantic inflow was widespread in the Arctic Ocean during the 1990s, the warm and saline inflow events in the early 2000s appear to circulate mainly in the Nansen Basin. Nevertheless, even in the Nansen Basin the seasonal ice melt appears independent of the continuously increasing heat content in the Atlantic layer. As no other oceanic heat sources can be identified in the upper layers, it is likely that increased absorption of solar energy has been causing the ice melt prior to the observations.

Tango Jona
Tangokurs Rapperswil-Jona

RPA Switzerland

RPA Switzerland

Robotic process automation