University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > British Antarctic Survey - Polar Oceans seminar series > Variability of Circumpolar Deep Water transport onto the Amundsen Sea shelf

Variability of Circumpolar Deep Water transport onto the Amundsen Sea shelf

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Oceanic heat transport has been identified as a critical control on the mass balance of the West Antarctic ice sheet. Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) with temperatures several degrees above the freezing point has been observed in the ice-shelf cavities within the Amundsen Sea embayment. Its transport onto the continental shelf appears to occur principally within several glacial troughs that intersect the shelf break. In view of the recent thinning observed in the glaciers terminating in the Amundsen Sea embayment, it is crucial to identify changes in the CDW transport onto the shelf and the mechanisms controlling it. Until recent years the Amundsen Sea has been a region sparse in oceanographic data due to its heavy sea-ice cover. A submarine trough at the central Amundsen Sea shelf break offers the most complete set of observations to identify inter-annual changes in on-shelf CDW transport over the past 15 years and we will therefore focus our analysis here. The available data in the trough now includes two full occupations in 2003 and 2006 and scattered stations between 1994 and 2009. We use these observations and results from a numerical model to assess the effect of changes in circulation and water-mass composition on the on-shelf heat transport in this region and discuss processes that might account for these changes.

This talk is part of the British Antarctic Survey - Polar Oceans seminar series series.

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