Circulation and water mass transports on the East Antarctic shelf in the Mertz Glacier region

Type Article
Date 2017-08
Language English
Author(s) Martin Antoine1, Houssais Marie-Noelle1, Le Goff Herve1, Marec Claudie2, Dausse Denis1
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ Paris 06, Sorbonne Univ, UPMC, CNRS IRD MNHN,LOCEAN Lab, 4 Pl Jussieu, F-75005 Paris, France.
2 : IFREMER, Lab Oceanog Phys & Spatiale, Ctr Brest, CS 10070, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
Source Deep-sea Research Part I-oceanographic Research Papers (0967-0637) (Pergamon-elsevier Science Ltd), 2017-08 , Vol. 126 , P. 1-20
DOI 10.1016/j.dsr.2017.05.007
WOS© Times Cited 8
Keyword(s) Antarctica, Continental shelf, Modified Circumpolar Deep Water, Heat transport, Freshwater transport, Adelie Georges V Land

The East Antarctic shelf off Adélie-George V Land is known to be an important region for Dense Shelf Water (DSW) formation as a result of intense sea ice production in the Mertz Glacier Polynya during the winter season. It is also a region where the warm modified Circumpolar Deep Water (mCDW) penetrates onto the shelf during the summer. Using hydrographic observations from a summer survey in 2008 we implement a box inverse model to propose a comprehensive view of the steady state circulation on this shelf in summer. Additional information from mooring observations collected on the depression slope is used to provide context to the retrieved circulation scheme. Over the depression slope, the summer baroclinic structure of the currents is found to contrast with the almost barotropic structure in winter.

The summer circulation is strongly constrained by the DSW distribution and forms a clockwise circulation primarily transporting the fresh surface waters and the warm mCDW around the dome of DSW. Over the upper flank of the Mertz Bank, the inflow branch transports the mCDW towards the Mertz Glacier, while, over the lower part of the slope, the outflow branch returns to the sill a diluted mode of the same water mass. A total of 0.19 Sv of mCDW inflows at the sill and two-third reach the Mertz Glacier and recirculate in front of it, allowing the mCDW to penetrate into the deeper part of the depression. Possible scenarios of interaction between the mCDW and the DSW with the glacier are examined. It is shown that, despite the water mass pathways and transports suggest possible ice-ocean interaction, both lateral and basal melting were likely small in summer 2008. Finally, our results suggest that, in addition to bathymetric features, the distribution of the residual DSW which is left from the preceding winter sets up regional pressure gradients which provide a seasonal control on the shelf circulation. In particular, the spring collapse of the convective patch would contribute to setting up a deep pycnocline which strongly impacts the shelf circulation in the following summer, with possible feedback of the mCDW transports on the polynya activity and water mass formation.

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