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Sensitivity of coastal polynyas and high-salinity shelf water production in the Ross Sea, Antarctica, to the atmospheric forcing
Mathiot, P.; Jourdain, N.C.; Barnier, B.; Gallee, H.; Molines, J.M.; Le Sommer, J.; Penduff, T. (2012). Sensitivity of coastal polynyas and high-salinity shelf water production in the Ross Sea, Antarctica, to the atmospheric forcing. Ocean Dynamics 62(5): 701-723.
In: Ocean Dynamics. Springer-Verlag: Berlin; Heidelberg; New York. ISSN 1616-7341, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 279166 [ OMA ]

Author keywords
    Ross Sea; Terra Nova Bay polynya; Ross Ice Shelf polynya; Hight salinityshelf water; Ocean/sea-ice modelling; Atmospheric downscaling

Authors  Top 
  • Mathiot, P., more
  • Jourdain, N.C.
  • Barnier, B.
  • Gallee, H.
  • Molines, J.M.
  • Le Sommer, J.
  • Penduff, T.

    Coastal polynyas around Antarctica are the place of intense air–sea exchanges which eventually lead to the formation of high-salinity shelf waters (HSSW) over continental shelves. Here, the influence of atmospheric forcing on coastal polynyas in the Ross Sea is studied by contrasting the response of a regional ocean/sea-ice circulation model to two different atmospheric forcing sets. A first forcing (DFS3) is based on ERA40 atmospheric surface variables and satellite products. A second forcing (MAR) is produced on the basis of ERA40 with a dynamical downscaling procedure. As compared to DFS3, MAR forcing is shown to improve substantially the representation of small-scale patterns of coastal winds with stronger katabatic winds along the coast. The response of the ocean/sea-ice model to the two forcing sets shows that the MAR forcing improves substantially the geographical distribution of polynyas in the Ross Sea. With the MAR forcing, the polynya season is also shown to last longer with a greater ice-production rate. As a consequence, a greater flow of dense water out of the polynyas is found with the MAR forcing and the properties of HSSW are notably improved as compared to the DFS3 forcing. The factors contributing to the activity of Terra Nova Bay and Ross Ice Shelf polynyas in the model are studied in detail. The general picture that emerges from our simulations is that the properties of HSSW are mostly set by brine rejection when the polynya season resume. We found that coastal polynyas in the Ross Sea export about 0.4 Sv of HSSW which then flows along three separate channels over the Ross Shelf. A 6-month time lag is observed between the peak of activity of polynyas and the maximum transport across the sills in the channels with a maximum transport of about 1 Sv in February. This lag corresponds to the time it takes to the newly formed HSSW to spread from the polynya to the sills (at a speed of nearly 2 cm s-1).

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