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Identification of Thermohaline Sheet and Its Spatial Structure in the Canada Basin

Yuan-Zheng LuaState Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China
bSouthern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Guangzhou), Guangzhou, China
cInstitution of South China Sea Ecology and Environmental Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China

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Shuang-Xi GuoaState Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China
bSouthern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Guangzhou), Guangzhou, China
cInstitution of South China Sea Ecology and Environmental Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China
dUniversity of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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Sheng-Qi ZhouaState Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China
bSouthern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Guangzhou), Guangzhou, China
cInstitution of South China Sea Ecology and Environmental Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China
dUniversity of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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Xue-Long SongeGuilin University of Electronic Technology, Beihai, China

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Peng-Qi HuangaState Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China
dUniversity of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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Abstract

Thirty-four individual thermohaline sheets are identified at depths of 170–400 m in the Canada Basin of the Arctic Ocean by using the hydrographical data measured with the Ice-Tethered Profilers (ITPs) between August 2005 and October 2009. Each sheet is well determined because the salinity within itself remains very stable and the associated salinity anomaly is markedly smaller than the salinity jump between neighboring sheets. These thermohaline sheets are nested between the Lower Halocline Water (LHW) and Atlantic Water (AW) with lateral coherence of hundreds of kilometers and thickness varying from several to dozens of meters. The physical properties, including temperature, heat flux, and vertical turbulent diffusivity, in the sheet are found to be averagely associated with the AW propagation. Spatially, the thermohaline sheet is in a bowl-shaped distribution, which is deepest in the basin center and gradually becomes shallower toward the periphery. The interaction between the LHW and AW could be demonstrated through the property variances in the sheets. The temperature variances in the upper and lower sheets are correlated with the LHW and AW, respectively, transited at the 15th sheet, whereas the depth variance in the sheet is strongly correlated with the LHW. It is proposed that the sheet spatial distribution is mainly dominated by the Ekman convergence with the Beaufort Gyre, slightly modulated with the AW intrusion.

Significance Statement

The diffusive convection staircases, composed of consecutive steps containing thick mixed layers and relatively thin interfaces, are prominent between the Lower Halocline Water (LHW) and the Atlantic Water (AW) throughout the Canada Basin. This sheet-like structure is in a bowl shape with lateral coherence over hundreds of kilometers. It is proposed that the distribution of the thermohaline sheet is mainly dominated by the Ekman convergence with Beaufort Gyre, as well as the AW intrusion. The present method of thermohaline-sheet identification would have more implications beyond this work. Since the thermohaline sheet remains mostly stable and coherent on a very large spatial–temporal scale, it might play a similar role as the water mass analysis in numerous applications, e.g., climate change.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Additional affiliation for Lu: Sanya Institute of Ocean Eco-Environmental Engineering, Sanya, China.

Corresponding authors: S.-X. Guo, sxguo@scsio.ac.cn; S.-Q. Zhou, sqzhou@scsio.ac.cn

Abstract

Thirty-four individual thermohaline sheets are identified at depths of 170–400 m in the Canada Basin of the Arctic Ocean by using the hydrographical data measured with the Ice-Tethered Profilers (ITPs) between August 2005 and October 2009. Each sheet is well determined because the salinity within itself remains very stable and the associated salinity anomaly is markedly smaller than the salinity jump between neighboring sheets. These thermohaline sheets are nested between the Lower Halocline Water (LHW) and Atlantic Water (AW) with lateral coherence of hundreds of kilometers and thickness varying from several to dozens of meters. The physical properties, including temperature, heat flux, and vertical turbulent diffusivity, in the sheet are found to be averagely associated with the AW propagation. Spatially, the thermohaline sheet is in a bowl-shaped distribution, which is deepest in the basin center and gradually becomes shallower toward the periphery. The interaction between the LHW and AW could be demonstrated through the property variances in the sheets. The temperature variances in the upper and lower sheets are correlated with the LHW and AW, respectively, transited at the 15th sheet, whereas the depth variance in the sheet is strongly correlated with the LHW. It is proposed that the sheet spatial distribution is mainly dominated by the Ekman convergence with the Beaufort Gyre, slightly modulated with the AW intrusion.

Significance Statement

The diffusive convection staircases, composed of consecutive steps containing thick mixed layers and relatively thin interfaces, are prominent between the Lower Halocline Water (LHW) and the Atlantic Water (AW) throughout the Canada Basin. This sheet-like structure is in a bowl shape with lateral coherence over hundreds of kilometers. It is proposed that the distribution of the thermohaline sheet is mainly dominated by the Ekman convergence with Beaufort Gyre, as well as the AW intrusion. The present method of thermohaline-sheet identification would have more implications beyond this work. Since the thermohaline sheet remains mostly stable and coherent on a very large spatial–temporal scale, it might play a similar role as the water mass analysis in numerous applications, e.g., climate change.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Additional affiliation for Lu: Sanya Institute of Ocean Eco-Environmental Engineering, Sanya, China.

Corresponding authors: S.-X. Guo, sxguo@scsio.ac.cn; S.-Q. Zhou, sqzhou@scsio.ac.cn
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