1.1 Wind-driven Sea-Ice Changes Intensify Subsurface Warm Water Intrusion into the West Antarctic Land Ice Front

Monday, 23 January 2017: 11:00 AM
Conference Center: Skagit 3 (Washington State Convention Center )
Xichen Li, IAP, Beijing, China; and S. T. Gille, S. P. Xie, D. M. Holland, M. M. Holland, and H. Goosse

The climate change observed around Antarctica in recent decades is characterized by distinct zonally asymmetric patterns, with the strongest changes over West Antarctica. These changes are marked by strong land ice melting and sea ice redistribution around West Antarctica. This is associated with temperature and circulation anomalies in the ocean and atmosphere around the same area. In this study, we comprehensively examine the coherency between these changes using a combination of observations and numerical simulations. Results show that the atmospheric circulation changes distinctly drive the changes in ocean circulation and sea ice distribution. In addition, the atmospheric circulation induced sea ice changes play an important role in lifting the subsurface ocean temperature and salinity around the West Antarctica. During recent decades, the Amundsen Sea Low (ASL) has deepened, especially in austral autumn and winter. This deepened ASL has intensified the offshore wind near the coastal regions of the Ross Sea. Driven by these atmospheric changes, more sea ice has formed near West Antarctica in winter. In contrast, more sea ice melts during the summer. This strengthened sea ice seasonality has been observed and successfully reproduced in the model simulation. The wind-driven sea ice changes causes a surface freshening over the Ross and Amundsen Seas, with a subsurface salinity increase over the Ross Sea. The additional fresh/salt water fluxes thus further change the vertical distribution of salinity and strengthen the stratification in the Ross and Amundsen Seas. As a result of the above ice-ocean process, the mixed-layer depth around the Ross and Amundsen Seas shallows (Supplementary Fig 4). By weakening the vertical heat transport near the surface layer, and inducing an upward movement of the circumpolar deep water (CDW), the surface layer is freshened and cooled, while the salinity and temperature in the sub-surface ocean are increased, extending from ~150 meters to >700 meters. Around the Amundsen Sea, warm water touches the continent, which could potentially contribute to the accelerated land ice melting over this area.
- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner