Evaluating Surface Heat Fluxes in the Antarctica Ross Sea

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Sunday, 4 January 2015
Austin D. Vacek, Millersville University, Hanover, PA

Atmospheric and oceanographic data collected during the 2012 PRISM (Processes Regulating Iron Supply at the Mesoscale) research cruise were used to construct surface heat budgets for three regions of the Ross Sea, Antarctica. Bulk method equations were implemented to determine net shortwave radiation, net longwave radiation, sensible heat flux, and latent heat flux. Net radiation had an observed range of -2 W m-2 to 88 W m-2 in the three locations. Sensible heat flux was the dominant term in the heat budget, ranging from -143 W m-2 to -9 W m-2. Decreases in sensible heat flux of -143 W m-2 to -52 W m-2 correlated with increases in wind speed and decreases in ambient air temperature, indicating the occurrence of atmospheric events. The net heat loss following these events resulted in an overall heat loss from the ocean, suggesting that cooling during ice free conditions is regulated by episodic events. Climate projections predict that the Ross Sea will experience periods of ice free conditions in the coming decades. The results from this study suggest that this coupled with changes in atmospheric storm frequency could significantly alter the overall surface heat budget in the Ross Sea.