National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2016

Winter water properties and the Chukchi polynya

Ladd, C., C.W. Mordy, S.A. Salo, and P.J. Stabeno

J. Geophys. Res., 121(8), 5516–5534, doi: 10.1002/2016JC011918 (2016)

Water properties from moored measurements (2010–2015) near Icy Cape on the eastern Chukchi shelf have been examined in relation to satellite observations of ice cover. Atlantic Water (AW), with temperature >−1°C and salinity >33.6, has been observed to upwell from deeper than 200 m in the Arctic Basin onto the Chukchi Shelf via Barrow Canyon. Most previous observations of AW on the Chukchi shelf have been in or near Barrow Canyon; observations of AW farther onto the shelf are rare. Despite mooring location on the shelf ~225 km from the head of Barrow Canyon, five AW events have been observed at mooring C1 (70.8°N, 163.2°W) in 4 years of data. All but one of the events occurred under openings in the sea-ice cover (either a polynya or the ice edge). No events were observed during the winter of 2011/2012, a year with little polynya activity in the region. In addition to changes in temperature and salinity, the AW events are typically associated with southwestward winds and currents, changes in sea-ice cover, and increased nutrient concentrations in the bottom water. Estimates of heat content associated with the AW events suggest that the Chukchi Polynya can often be classified as a hybrid sensible heat/wind-driven polynya.

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