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The ocean mixed layer under Southern Ocean sea-ice: Seasonal cycle and forcing
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Meteorology .
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Number of Authors: 5
2017 (English)In: Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans, ISSN 2169-9275, E-ISSN 2169-9291, Vol. 122, no 2, 1608-1633 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The oceanic mixed layer is the gateway for the exchanges between the atmosphere and the ocean; in this layer, all hydrographic ocean properties are set for months to millennia. A vast area of the Southern Ocean is seasonally capped by sea-ice, which alters the characteristics of the ocean mixed layer. The interaction between the ocean mixed layer and sea-ice plays a key role for water mass transformation, the carbon cycle, sea-ice dynamics, and ultimately for the climate as a whole. However, the structure and characteristics of the under-ice mixed layer are poorly understood due to the sparseness of in situ observations and measurements. In this study, we combine distinct sources of observations to overcome this lack in our understanding of the polar regions. Working with elephant seal-derived, ship-based, and Argo float observations, we describe the seasonal cycle of the ocean mixed-layer characteristics and stability of the ocean mixed layer over the Southern Ocean and specifically under sea-ice. Mixed-layer heat and freshwater budgets are used to investigate the main forcing mechanisms of the mixed-layer seasonal cycle. The seasonal variability of sea surface salinity and temperature are primarily driven by surface processes, dominated by sea-ice freshwater flux for the salt budget and by air-sea flux for the heat budget. Ekman advection, vertical diffusivity, and vertical entrainment play only secondary roles. Our results suggest that changes in regional sea-ice distribution and annual duration, as currently observed, widely affect the buoyancy budget of the underlying mixed layer, and impact large-scale water mass formation and transformation with far reaching consequences for ocean ventilation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 122, no 2, 1608-1633 p.
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-142518DOI: 10.1002/2016JC011970ISI: 000398063100048OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-142518DiVA: diva2:1094492
Available from: 2017-05-10 Created: 2017-05-10 Last updated: 2017-05-10Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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