3 years ago

Submesoscale Sea Ice-Ocean Interactions in Marginal Ice Zones

Georgy E Manucharyan, Andrew F Thompson
Signatures of ocean eddies, fronts and filaments are commonly observed within the marginal ice zones (MIZ) from satellite images of sea ice concentration, and in situ observations via ice-tethered profilers or under-ice gliders. Localized and intermittent sea ice heating and advection by ocean eddies are currently not accounted for in climate models and may contribute to their biases and errors in sea ice forecasts. Here, we explore mechanical sea ice interactions with underlying submesoscale ocean turbulence. We demonstrate that the release of potential energy stored in meltwater fronts can lead to energetic submesoscale motions along MIZs with sizes O(10 km) and Rossby numbers O(1). In low-wind conditions, cyclonic eddies and filaments efficiently trap the sea ice and advect it over warmer surface ocean waters where it can effectively melt. The horizontal eddy diffusivity of sea ice mass and heat across the MIZ can reach O(200 m2 s−1). Submesoscale ocean variability also induces large vertical velocities (order of 10 m day−1) that can bring relatively warm subsurface waters into the mixed layer. The ocean–sea ice heat fluxes are localized over cyclonic eddies and filaments reaching about 100 W m−2. We speculate that these submesoscale-driven intermittent fluxes of heat and sea ice can potentially contribute to the seasonal evolution of MIZs. With the continuing global warming and sea ice thickness reduction in the Arctic Ocean, submesoscale sea ice-ocean processes are expected to become increasingly prominent.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1002/2017JC012895

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