Salinity response to atmospheric forcing of the Terra Nova Bay polynya, Antarctica

LeBel, Deborah A.; Zappa, Christopher J.; Budillon, Giorgio; Gordon, Arnold L.

The density and salinity of High Salinity Shelf Water, a key component of Antarctic Bottom Water emanating from the Ross Sea, are intensified by brine rejection induced by ice formation within the Terra Nova Bay (TNB) polynya. Ocean mooring data from 2007, meteorological observations from automatic weather stations and a satellite-derived history of the opening of TNB polynya delineate variability in water column salinity linked to atmospheric forcing, with a period on the order of 10 days. Lagged correlation analysis indicates that on average salinity response lags the polynya opening by 2 days and the wind forcing by 5 days. We find stronger correlations of salinity with the wind during March through May and with the polynya open-water fraction during June through October, with decreasing lags in the latter period. A one-dimensional mixed-layer model incorporating thermodynamic ice formation captures the oscillations in salinity. A process study shows that the variability in the polynya open-water fraction governs the final salinity attained by the model as well as the salinity cycling. Variability in surface heat fluxes modulates that effect. Our work suggests that there is a more complex relationship between salinity, the polynya open-water fraction, and atmospheric forcing than previously suggested.

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Antarctic Science

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Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
Published Here
January 7, 2022