Circulation and water mass transformation in a model of the Chukchi Sea Academic Article uri icon


  • The circulation and water mass transformation in a regional ocean-ice model of the Chukchi Sea are discussed. The model has horizontal resolution of O(4 km), is forced by fluxes derived from daily NCEP reanalysis fields, and has seasonally varying transport, temperature, and salinity imposed at Bering Strait. Many of the observed characteristics of the mean circulation and seasonal cycle in the Chukchi Sea are reproduced. The discussion focuses on: the branching of the inflow transport into pathways following Herald Canyon, Central Channel, and the Alaskan coast; the pattern of ice melt; and the water mass transformation and formation of winter water and hypersaline water. The ice melt pattern and timing is strongly influenced by advection through Bering Strait. High frequency forcing results in a larger region of ice melt, particularly over the shoals and in the northern Chukchi Sea, compared to monthly mean forcing. In the model, the seasonal cycle of salinity in the southern and central Chukchi Sea is dominated by advection through Bering Strait, while local atmospheric forcing and brine rejection are more important north of Herald and Hanna Shoals and in Barrow Canyon. However, since the residence time in the Chukchi Sea is generally less than 1 year, interannual variability in the Bering Strait salinity will be reflected in the salinity across the Chukchi Sea and at Barrow Canyon.

publication date

  • May 11, 2007