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Robert Sanchez, Fiamma Straneo, and Magdalena Andres

Abstract

Monitoring the heat content variability of glacial fjords is crucial to understanding the effects of oceanic forcing on marine-terminating glaciers. A pressure-sensor-equipped inverted echo sounder (PIES) was deployed midfjord in Sermilik Fjord in southeast Greenland from August 2011 to September 2012 alongside a moored array of instruments recording temperature, conductivity, and velocity. Historical hydrography is used to quantify the relationship between acoustic travel time and the vertically averaged heat content, and a new method is developed for filtering acoustic return echoes in an ice-influenced environment. We show that PIES measurements, combined with a knowledge of the fjord’s two-layer density structure, can be used to reconstruct the thickness and temperature of the inflowing water. Additionally, we find that fjord–shelf exchange events are identifiable in the travel time record implying the PIES can be used to monitor fjord circulation. Finally, we show that PIES data can be combined with moored temperature records to derive the heat content of the upper layer of the fjord where moored instruments are at great risk of being damaged by transiting icebergs.

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Vigan Mensah, Magdalena Andres, Ren-Chieh Lien, Barry Ma, Craig M. Lee, and Sen Jan

Abstract

This study presents amended procedures to process and map data collected by pressure-sensor-equipped inverted echo sounders (PIESs) in western boundary current regions. The modifications to the existing methodology, applied to observations of the Kuroshio from a PIES array deployed northeast of Luzon, Philippines, consist of substituting a hydrography-based mean travel time field for the PIES-based mean field and using two distinct gravest empirical mode (GEM) lookup tables across the front that separate water masses of South China Sea and North Pacific origin. In addition, this study presents a method to use time-mean velocities from acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) to reference (or “level”) the PIES-recorded pressures in order to obtain time series of absolute geostrophic velocity. Results derived from the PIES observations processed with the hydrography-based mean field and two GEMs are compared with hydrographic profiles sampled by Seagliders during the PIES observation period and with current velocity measured concurrently by a collocated ADCP array. The updated processing scheme leads to a 41% error decrease in the determination of the thermocline depth across the current, a 22% error decrease in baroclinic current velocity shear, and a 61% error decrease in baroclinic volume transports. The absolute volume transport time series derived from the leveled PIES array compares well with that obtained directly from the ADCPs with a root-mean-square difference of 3.0 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s–1), which is mainly attributed to the influence of ageostrophic processes on the ADCP-measured velocities that cannot be calculated from the PIES observations.

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Magdalena Andres, Ruth C. Musgrave, Daniel L. Rudnick, Kristin L. Zeiden, Thomas Peacock, and Jae-Hun Park

Abstract

As part of the Flow Encountering Abrupt Topography (FLEAT) program, an array of pressure-sensor equipped inverted echo sounders (PIESs) was deployed north of Palau where the westward-flowing North Equatorial Current encounters the southern end of the Kyushu–Palau Ridge in the tropical North Pacific. Capitalizing on concurrent observations from satellite altimetry, FLEAT Spray gliders, and shipboard hydrography, the PIESs’ 10-month duration hourly bottom pressure p and round-trip acoustic travel time τ records are used to examine the magnitude and predictability of sea level and pycnocline depth changes and to track signal propagations through the array. Sea level and pycnocline depth are found to vary in response to a range of ocean processes, with their magnitude and predictability strongly process dependent. Signals characterized here comprise the barotropic tides, semidiurnal and diurnal internal tides, southeastward-propagating superinertial waves, westward-propagating mesoscale eddies, and a strong signature of sea level increase and pycnocline deepening associated with the region’s relaxation from El Niño to La Niña conditions. The presence of a broad band of superinertial waves just above the inertial frequency was unexpected and the FLEAT observations and output from a numerical model suggest that these waves detected near Palau are forced by remote winds east of the Philippines. The PIES-based estimates of pycnocline displacement are found to have large uncertainties relative to overall variability in pycnocline depth, as localized deep current variations arising from interactions of the large-scale currents with the abrupt topography around Palau have significant travel time variability.

Open access