Seismic reflection imaging of mixing processes in Fram Strait
The West Spitsbergen Current, which flows northward along the western Svalbard continental slope, transports warm and saline Atlantic water (AW) into the Arctic Ocean. A combined analysis of high-resolution seismic images and hydrographic sections across this current has uncovered the oceanographic processes involved in horizontal and vertical mixing of AW. At the shelf break, where a strong horizontal temperature gradient exists east of the warmest AW, isopycnal interleaving of warm AW and surrounding colder waters is observed. Strong seismic reflections characterize these interleaving features, with a negative polarity reflection arising from an interface of warm water overlying colder water. A seismic-derived sound speed image reveals the extent and lateral continuity of such interleaving layers. There is evidence of obliquely aligned internal waves emanating from the slope at 450–500 m. They follow the predicted trajectory of internal S2 tidal waves and can promote vertical mixing between Atlantic and Arctic-origin waters.
Authors: Sarkar, Sudipta, Sheen, Katy L., Klaeschen, Dirk, Brearley, J. Alexander, Minshull, Timothy A., Berndt, Christian, Hobbs, Richard W., Naveira Garabato, Alberto C.