Connections among ice, runoff and atmospheric forcing in the Beaufort Gyre

  • Macdonald R
  • Carmack E
  • McLaughlin F
 et al. 
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Abstract

During SHEBA, thin ice and freshening of the Arctic Ocean surface
in the Beaufort Sea led to speculation that perennial sea ice was
disappearing [McPhee et al., 1998]. Since 1987, we have collected
salinity, δ18O and Ba profiles near the initial SHEBA site and,
in 1997, we ran a section out to SHEBA. Resolving fresh water into
runoff and ice melt, we found a large background of Mackenzie River
water with exceptional amounts in 1997 explaining much of the freshening
at SHEBA. Ice melt went through a dramatic 4–6 m jump in the
early 1990s coinciding with the atmospheric pressure field and sea‐ice
circulation becoming more cyclonic. The increase in sea‐ice
melt appears to be a thermal and mechanical response to a circulation
regime shift. Should atmospheric circulation revert to the more anticyclonic
mode, ice conditions can also be expected to revert although not
necessarily to previous conditions.

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