EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Upper-ocean processes in sea-ice formation season in front of Dotson Ice Shelf 

Yixi Zheng1, Benjamin Webber1, Karen Heywood1, and David Stevens2
Yixi Zheng et al.
  • 1Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.
  • 2Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, School of Mathematics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.

The upper-ocean processes near ice shelves play crucial roles in the local freshwater budget, carbon take-up, surface albedo, and ice-shelf melting via controlling the air-sea heat exchange and thermocline depth. The upper-ocean processes are particularly complex during the austral autumn when both the air temperature and solar radiation flux drop dramatically, which result in an intense sea-ice formation and further influence the air-sea-ice interactions. However, in regions near the ice shelves like the Dotson Ice Shelf, where sea ice covers the ocean ten months a year, the lack of high-resolution and long-period observations limit our understanding of the upper-ocean processes in this sea-ice formation season. Here we present a dataset of high-frequency (1 Hz) temperature and salinity measurements collected by a recovered seal’s tag. This tag recorded the ocean properties during late summer to autumn (mid-February to mid-April 2014) in a small region (within a 15-km radius circle) in front of the Dotson Ice Shelf, when sea ice formed and mixed-layer depth deepened. During those two months, mixed-layer depth increased from about 25 m to 125 m. The mixed-layer water temperature was always near the freezing point, while the salinity increased from 33.35 to 34.25 g per kg, equivalent to a sea ice formation of about 3.26 cm per day. We compare the changes of the upper-ocean properties with ERA-5 reanalysis atmospheric data and find that the upper-ocean heat content can be largely explained by the air-temperature changes. We run a 1-D upper-ocean model with and without sea-ice formation to explore the effect of sea-ice formation on the processes on the salinification and deepening of the mixed layer during autumn.

How to cite: Zheng, Y., Webber, B., Heywood, K., and Stevens, D.: Upper-ocean processes in sea-ice formation season in front of Dotson Ice Shelf , EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-342,, 2022.


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