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Formation and export of dense shelf water from the Ade´lie Depression, East Antarctica


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Williams, GD, Bindoff, NL, Marsland, SJ and Rintoul, SR 2008 , 'Formation and export of dense shelf water from the Ade´lie Depression, East Antarctica' , Journal of Geophysical Research, vol. 113, no. C04039 , doi: 10.1029/2007JC004346.

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Coastal polynyas in the Adelie Depression are an important source of Antarctic Bottom Water to the Australian-Antarctic Basin. We present time series (April 1998 to May 1999 and August 1999 to February 2000) of data from temperature-salinity sensors, in both the Adelie Depression and the known outflow region of the Adelie Sill, to describe the annual cycle of shelf water densities. From April through September, salinification beneath the polynya produces dense shelf waters. During September–October, shelf water densities in the depression peak at 27.94 kg m3,
and the cooling and freshening signature of Ice Shelf Water is observed north of
Buchanan Bay. In November–December, shelf water densities decrease as intrusions of
warm and relatively fresh modified Circumpolar Deep Water enter east of the Ade´lie
Sill. From January–March the surface layer is conditioned by the cooling of the
atmosphere, which overturns the upper water column. At the Ade´lie Sill, observed
daily mean currents were approximately 10 cm s1 with intense instantaneous currents
greater than 50 cm s1 at the sill depth. Using an idealized outflow region with a
rectangular cross-sectional area (6 106 m2), we present the first estimates of shelf
water export by potential density class. Assuming shelf water with a minimum density
of 27.88 kg m3 has sufficient negative buoyancy for downslope mixing and a
fourfold volume increase (1:3 mixing ratio) from entrainment, the dense shelf water export
of 0.1–0.5 Sv results in an annual average production of bottom water in this region of
between 0.4 and 2.0 Sv. The wide range in bottom water estimate results from data
limitations, and a narrowing of this range requires further mooring observations.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Williams, GD and Bindoff, NL and Marsland, SJ and Rintoul, SR
Keywords: polynya; shelf water.
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Geophysical Research
ISSN: 0148-0227
DOI / ID Number: 10.1029/2007JC004346
Additional Information:

Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union.

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