Ice‐shelf meltwater overturning in the Bellingshausen Sea

Hydrographic data are analyzed for the broad continental shelf of the Bellingshausen Sea, which is host to a number of rapidly‐thinning ice shelves. The flow of warm Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) onto the continental shelf is observed in the two major glacially‐carved troughs, the Belgica and Latady troughs. Using ship‐based measurements of potential temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen, collected across several coast‐to‐coast transects over the Bellingshausen shelf in 2007, the velocity and circulation patterns are inferred based on geostrophic balance and further constrained by the tracer and mass budgets. Meltwater was observed at the surface and at intermediate depth toward the western side of the continental shelf, collocated with inferred outflows. The maximum conversion rate from the dense CDW to lighter water masses by mixing with glacial meltwater is estimated to be 0.37±0.1 Sv in both depth and potential density spaces. This diapycnal overturning is comparable to previous estimates made in the neighboring Amundsen Sea, highlighting the overlooked importance of water mass modification and meltwater production associated with glacial melting in the Bellingshausen Sea.


Publication status:
Authors: Ruan, Xiaozhou, Speer, Kevin G., Thompson, Andrew F., Schulze Chretien, Lena M., Shoosmith, Deborah R.

On this site: Deb Shoosmith
13 May, 2021
Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans / 126
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