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Thermohaline structure and variability in the Terra Nova Bay polynya, Ross Sea

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 May 2004

G. Budillon
Affiliation:
Istituto di Meteorologia e Oceanografia, Istituto Universitario Navale, Via Acton, 38, 80133 Napoli, Italy
G. Spezie
Affiliation:
Istituto di Meteorologia e Oceanografia, Istituto Universitario Navale, Via Acton, 38, 80133 Napoli, Italy

Abstract

Hydrological measurements from three cruises during the summers 1994/95, 1995/96 and 1997/98 in the western sector of the Ross Sea allow summer and year to year changes in heat and salt content in the Terra Nova Bay polynya to be analysed. Changes in the surface layer (upper pycnocline) followed the expected seasonal pattern of warming and freshening from the beginning to the end of the summer. These near-surface changes, expressed as net heating and salting rate, were about 11 W m−2 and -6 mg salt m−2 s−1. The heating changes were substantially lower than the estimated heat supplied by the atmosphere during the summer, which underlines the importance for this season of the advective component carried by the currents in the total heat budget. The year to year differences were about one or two orders of magnitude smaller than the seasonal changes in the surface layer. In the intermediate and deep layers, the summer heat and salt variability were of the same order as or one order higher than from one summer to the next. The differences in sign and magnitude for the heat change in the upper and in the lower pycnocline indicate a weak connection in the summer period between the surface heat fluxes and the deep waters. A local source of very cold water (with temperatures below the surface freezing point) of about 0.3 Sv has been detected close to the Terra Nova Bay coast. It arose out of the interaction of the shallow–intermediate layers of High Salinity Shelf Water with the coastal glaciers. The presence and the variability of this cold water point to the significant role of the thermohaline properties of Terra Nova Bay waters in controlling the floating glacier by governing the basal melting processes.

Type
Papers—Atmospheric Sciences
Copyright
© Antarctic Science Ltd 2000

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