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Ocean Heat Flux in the Central Weddell Sea during Winter

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  • 1 McPhee Research Company, Naches, Washington
  • | 2 Institut fuer Meteorologie und Klimaforschung, Universitaet Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • | 3 Polar Science Center, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
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Abstract

Seasonal sea ice, which plays a pivotal role in air–sea interaction in the Weddell Sea (a region of large deep-water formation with potential impact on climate), depends critically on heat flux from the deep ocean. During the austral winter of 1994, an intensive process-oriented field program named the Antarctic Zone Flux Experiment measured upper-ocean turbulent fluxes during two short manned ice-drift station experiments near the Maud Rise seamount region of the Weddell Sea. Unmanned data buoys left at the site of the first manned drift provided a season-long time series of ice motion, mixed layer temperature and salinity, plus a (truncated) high-resolution record of temperature within the ice column. Direct turbulence flux measurements made in the ocean boundary layer during the manned drift stations were extended to the ice–ocean interface with a “mixing length” model and were used to evaluate parameters in bulk expressions for interfacial stress (a “Rossby similarity” drag law) and ocean-to-ice heat flux (proportional to the product of friction velocity and mixed layer temperature elevation above freezing). The Rossby parameters and dimensionless heat transfer coefficient agree closely with previous studies from perennial pack ice in the Arctic, despite a large disparity in undersurface roughness. For the manned drifts, ocean heat flux averaged 52 W m−2 west of Maud Rise and 23 W m−2 over Maud Rise. Unmanned buoy heat flux averaged 27 W m−2 over a 76-day drift. Although short-term differences were large, average conductive heat flux in the ice was nearly identical to ocean heat flux over the 44-day ice thermistor record.

Corresponding author address: Miles G. McPhee, 450 Clover Springs Road, Naches, WA 98937.

Email: miles@apl.washington.edu

Abstract

Seasonal sea ice, which plays a pivotal role in air–sea interaction in the Weddell Sea (a region of large deep-water formation with potential impact on climate), depends critically on heat flux from the deep ocean. During the austral winter of 1994, an intensive process-oriented field program named the Antarctic Zone Flux Experiment measured upper-ocean turbulent fluxes during two short manned ice-drift station experiments near the Maud Rise seamount region of the Weddell Sea. Unmanned data buoys left at the site of the first manned drift provided a season-long time series of ice motion, mixed layer temperature and salinity, plus a (truncated) high-resolution record of temperature within the ice column. Direct turbulence flux measurements made in the ocean boundary layer during the manned drift stations were extended to the ice–ocean interface with a “mixing length” model and were used to evaluate parameters in bulk expressions for interfacial stress (a “Rossby similarity” drag law) and ocean-to-ice heat flux (proportional to the product of friction velocity and mixed layer temperature elevation above freezing). The Rossby parameters and dimensionless heat transfer coefficient agree closely with previous studies from perennial pack ice in the Arctic, despite a large disparity in undersurface roughness. For the manned drifts, ocean heat flux averaged 52 W m−2 west of Maud Rise and 23 W m−2 over Maud Rise. Unmanned buoy heat flux averaged 27 W m−2 over a 76-day drift. Although short-term differences were large, average conductive heat flux in the ice was nearly identical to ocean heat flux over the 44-day ice thermistor record.

Corresponding author address: Miles G. McPhee, 450 Clover Springs Road, Naches, WA 98937.

Email: miles@apl.washington.edu

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