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Modeling water mass formation in the Mertz Glacier Polynya and Ade´lie Depression, East Antarctica


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Marsland, SJ, Bindoff, NL, Williams, GD and Budd, WF 2004 , 'Modeling water mass formation in the Mertz Glacier Polynya and Ade´lie Depression, East Antarctica' , Journal of Geophysical Research, vol. 109, no. C11003 , pp. 1-18 , doi: 10.1029/2004JC002441.

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High rates of sea ice growth and brine rejection in the Mertz Glacier Polynya drive the production of dense continental shelf waters in the Ade´lie Depression. We consider the rate of outflow of waters having sufficient density to sink into the neighboring abyssal ocean
and form Ade´lie Land Bottom Water (ALBW). Along with Weddell and Ross Sea Bottom Waters, the ALBW is an important source of Antarctic Bottom Water. The relevant
processes are modeled using a variant of the Max Planck Institute Ocean Model (MPIOM) under daily NCEP-NCAR reanalysis forcing for the period 1991–2000. The orthogonal
curvilinear horizontal grid allows for the construction of a global domainwith high resolution in our region of interest. The modeled Mertz Glacier Polynya is realistic in location and extent, exhibiting low ice thickness (<0.4 m) and low ice fraction (<50%). The net surface ocean to atmosphere heat flux exceeds 200 W m2 and is dominated by sensible heat
exchange. In wintertime (May through September inclusive), 7.5mof sea ice forms over the Ade´lie Depression at a rate of 4.9 cm d1: this results in annual average volumetric
production of 99 km3 of sea ice. The associated brine release drives dense shelf water formation. The off-shelf flow of dense water exhibits strong interannual variability in response to variability in both atmospheric forcing and ocean preconditioning. Averaged over the period 1991–2000 the off shelf flow of dense water is 0.15 Sv: for a period of strong outflow (1993–1997), this increases to 0.24 Sv. Most of the outflow occurs during July through October, at a rate of 0.40 (0.63) Sv over the period 1991–2000 (1993–1997). The peak mean monthly outflow can exceed 1 Sv.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Marsland, SJ and Bindoff, NL and Williams, GD and Budd, WF
Keywords: Southern Ocean; polynyas; modeling.
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Geophysical Research
ISSN: 0148-0227
DOI / ID Number: 10.1029/2004JC002441
Additional Information:

Copyright 2004 American Geophysical Union

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