EGU22-7897, updated on 28 Mar 2022
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

A multidecadal decline of Weddell Sea Bottom Water volume forced by wind-driven sea ice changes

Shenjie Zhou1, Andrew Meijers1, Michael Meredith1, Povl Abrahamsen1, Alessandro Silvano2, Paul Holland1, Jean-Baptiste Sallée3, and Svein Østerhus4
Shenjie Zhou et al.
  • 1British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK
  • 2Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre, Univeristy of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  • 3Sorbonne Université, CNRS/IRD/MNHN, LOCEAN, IPSL, Paris, France.
  • 4NORCE Norwegian Research Centre and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway.

Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) is one of the most important deep water masses contributing to the lower limb of the global overturning circulation, which modulates the deep ocean ventilation and oceanic heat/carbon exchanges on multidecadal to millennial timescales. Weddell Sea Bottom Water (WSBW) is a key precursor of the AABW exported from the Weddell Sea. Its formation involves intense air-sea-ice interaction on the continental shelf that releases brine from sea ice formation, and occurs mostly in the austral winter. Here we report a distinct long-term volume decline of WSBW revealed by data collected along repeat occupations of World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) hydrographic sections. We estimate a >20% reduction of WSBW volume since the early 1990s and a resultant widespread deep Weddell Sea warming associated with a basin-scale deepening of isopycnal surfaces. With the most significant volume reduction concentrating within the densest classes of WSBW and a concurrent decline of sea ice formation rate (>30%) over the southwestern Weddell continental shelf inferred from remote-sensed sea ice concentration data, we propose that the observed WSBW volume reduction is likely to be driven by a multidecadal weakening of dense shelf water production due to the sea ice changes. Reanalysis atmospheric data and ice drift data suggest that the reduction of sea ice formation rate is predominantly linked to changes in wind-driven sea ice convergence in front of Ronne Ice Shelf and Berkner Bank, as a response to a vigorous Amundsen Sea Low deepening that is teleconnected to tropical Pacific SST variability, and associated with the local radiative forcing from long-term ozone depletion.

How to cite: Zhou, S., Meijers, A., Meredith, M., Abrahamsen, P., Silvano, A., Holland, P., Sallée, J.-B., and Østerhus, S.: A multidecadal decline of Weddell Sea Bottom Water volume forced by wind-driven sea ice changes, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-7897,, 2022.


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