Catalog Record: The Effect of Sea Ice Mobility on Shelf Basin Exchange in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea
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The Effect of Sea Ice Mobility on Shelf Basin Exchange in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea

The Alaskan Beaufort shelf (ABS) is fed by Pacific water emanating from Bering Strait and is strongly wind-forced in fall and winter due to the passage of synoptic storms. Because this Pacific derived water flowing along the northern boundary of the ABS is nutrient rich, upwelling of these Pacific waters onto the ABS is an important source of nutrients to the shelf. Thus understanding upwelling is integral to understanding the ABS ecosystem. The water column response to storms depends on the ice cover which tends to be fast over the inner shelf and increasingly mobile with offshore distance. This cross-shelf gradient in ice mobility (CSGIM) is documented by the first-ever mooring array extending from the inner shelf to the continental slope of the ABS, the NOPP array. We plan to use the NOPP and several other datasets to determine the year to year variability of the CSGIM. We will supplement this analysis with a suite of idealized numerical circulation models to fully describe the effects of the CSGIM on underice, cross-shelf exchange between the shelf and the basin. Since the upwelling response depends on the difference in surface stress across the shelf and this difference is determined by the CSGIM, changes in the ice cover in a changing climate will affect the supply of nutrients to the outer shelf. The complimentary use of observations and idealized models will improve our understanding of exchange processes and allow us to make simple predictions about changes to cross-shelf exchange and water column properties.


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Status: Complete
Start Date: 2012/07/01
Type: Project
End Date: 2014/06/30
Primary Organizations
North Pacific Research Board

Funding Organization
North Pacific Research Board

Other Organizations
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Alaska, North Slope

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