Fixed-Point Observation of Mixed Layer Evolution in the Seasonally Ice-Free Chukchi Sea: Turbulent Mixing due to Gale Winds and Internal Gravity Waves

Yusuke Kawaguchi Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Yokosuka, Kanagawa, Japan, and Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

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Shigeto Nishino Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Yokosuka, Kanagawa, Japan

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Jun Inoue National Institute of Polar Research, Tokyo, and Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Yokosuka, Kanagawa, Japan

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Abstract

A fixed-point observation using the R/V Mirai was conducted in the ice-free northern Chukchi Sea of the Arctic Ocean during September of 2013. During the program the authors performed repeated microstructure measurements to reveal the temporal evolution of the surface mixed layer and mixing processes in the upper water column. The shelf region was initially characterized by a distinct two-layer system comprising a warmer/fresher top layer and a colder/saltier bottom layer. During the two-week observation period, the top-layer water showed two types of mixing processes: near-surface turbulence due to strong wind forcing and subsurface mixing due to internal gravity waves. In the first week, when the top layer was stratified with fresh sea ice meltwater, turbulent energy related to internal waves propagated through the subsurface stratification, resulting in a mechanical overturning near the pycnocline, followed by enhanced mixing there. In the second week, gale winds directly stirred up the upper water and then established a deeper homogenous layer. The combination of internal wave mixing and wind-driven turbulence may contribute to releasing the oceanic heat into the atmosphere, consequently promoting the preconditioning of surface water freezing.

Corresponding author address: Yusuke Kawaguchi, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, 1013 NE 40th Street, Box 355640, Seattle, WA 98105. E-mail: ykawaguchi@apl.washington.edu

Abstract

A fixed-point observation using the R/V Mirai was conducted in the ice-free northern Chukchi Sea of the Arctic Ocean during September of 2013. During the program the authors performed repeated microstructure measurements to reveal the temporal evolution of the surface mixed layer and mixing processes in the upper water column. The shelf region was initially characterized by a distinct two-layer system comprising a warmer/fresher top layer and a colder/saltier bottom layer. During the two-week observation period, the top-layer water showed two types of mixing processes: near-surface turbulence due to strong wind forcing and subsurface mixing due to internal gravity waves. In the first week, when the top layer was stratified with fresh sea ice meltwater, turbulent energy related to internal waves propagated through the subsurface stratification, resulting in a mechanical overturning near the pycnocline, followed by enhanced mixing there. In the second week, gale winds directly stirred up the upper water and then established a deeper homogenous layer. The combination of internal wave mixing and wind-driven turbulence may contribute to releasing the oceanic heat into the atmosphere, consequently promoting the preconditioning of surface water freezing.

Corresponding author address: Yusuke Kawaguchi, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, 1013 NE 40th Street, Box 355640, Seattle, WA 98105. E-mail: ykawaguchi@apl.washington.edu
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