Shelf and Bottom Water Formation Near East Antarctic Polynyas and Glaciers
This study will investigate how the formation of dense water masses on the antarctic continental shelves is affected by the periodic flushing by relatively warm circumpolar deep water, and whether the intrusion of warm water cna enhance the rate of formation of dense antarctic water. The study involves the observation of water mass modification processes on the continental shelf off the Adelie Coast in East Antarctica, near a quasi-permanent area of open water in the vicinity of the Mertz and Ninnis Glacier tongues - the so-called Mertz polynya.
Antarctic coastal polynyas, formed by strong offshore winds, are often referred to as major sea ice and salt "factories" because the newly formed ice is blown seaward, allowing more ice to be formed along the coast, and because the freezing process increases the salinity of the continental shelf water. The thin ice, or even open water, implies significant heat losses from the ocean to the atmosphere, which also increases the density of the shelf water. The shelf water sinks, fills any depressions in the bottom, and is gravitationally driven down the continental slope. An additional process is identified for this study and is expected to be at work in this area: the intrusion of relatively warm water onto the continental shelf, overriding the shelf water and essentially shutting down the densification processes.
The study will make use of the RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer to obtain a closely spaced array of hydrographic stations over the continental shelf and slope along the George V Coast in the austral summer. The dat obtained here will complement a similar winter study by the Australian National Antarctic Program.
AMD - DIF Record(s)
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Platforms and Instruments
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