Water properties, heat and volume fluxes of Pacific water in Barrow Canyon during summer 2010 Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Over the past few decades, sea ice retreat during summer has been enhanced in the Pacific sector of the Arctic basin, likely due in part to increasing summertime heat flux of Pacific-origin water from the Bering Strait. Barrow Canyon, in the northeast Chukchi Sea, is a major conduit through which the Pacific-origin water enters the Arctic basin. This paper presents results from 6 repeat high-resolution shipboard hydrographic/velocity sections occupied across Barrow Canyon in summer 2010. The different Pacific water masses feeding the canyon – Alaskan coastal water (ACW), summer Bering Sea water (BSW), and Pacific winter water (PWW) – all displayed significant intra-seasonal variability. Net volume transports through the canyon were between 0.96 and 1.70 Sv poleward, consisting of 0.41–0.98 Sv of warm Pacific water (ACW and BSW) and 0.28–0.65 Sv of PWW. The poleward heat flux also varied strongly, ranging from 8.56 TW to 24.56 TW, mainly due to the change in temperature of the warm Pacific water. Using supplemental mooring data from the core of the warm water, along with wind data from the Pt. Barrow weather station, we derive and assess a proxy for estimating heat flux in the canyon for the summer time period, which is when most of the heat passes northward towards the basin. The average heat flux for 2010 was estimated to be 3.34 TW, which is as large as the previous record maximum in 2007. This amount of heat could melt 315,000 km2 of 1-meter thick ice, which likely contributed to significant summer sea ice retreat in the Pacific sector of the Arctic Ocean.

publication date

  • August 2015