The plume of Ice Shelf Water (ISW) flowing into the Weddell Sea over the Filchner sill contributes to the formation of Antarctic Bottom Water. The Filchner overflow is simulated using a hydrostatic, primitive equation three-dimensional ocean model with a 0.5-2 Sv ISW influx above the Filchner sill. The best fit to mooring temperature observations is found with influxes of 0.5 and 1 Sv, below a previous estimate of 1.6 +/- 0.5 Sv based on sparse mooring velocities. The plume first moves north over the continental shelf, and then turns west, along slope of the continental shelf break where it breaks up into subplumes and domes, some of which then move downslope. Other subplumes run into the eastern submarine ridge and propagate along the ridge downslope in a chaotic manner. The next, western ridge is crossed by the plume through several paths. Despite a number of discrepancies with observational data, the model reproduces many attributes of the flow. In particular, we argue that the temporal variability shown by the observations can largely be attributed to the unstable structure of the flow, where the temperature fluctuations are determined by the motion of the domes past the moorings. Our sensitivity studies show that while thermobaricity plays a role, its effect is small for the flows considered. Smoothing the ridges out demonstrate that their presence strongly affects the plume shape around the ridges. An increase in the bottom drag or viscosity leads to slowing down, and hence thickening and widening of the plume.
Authors: Wilchinsky, Alexander V., Feltham, Daniel L.