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Marine Science


The Chukchi Sea (CS) circulation reconstructed for September 1990 to October 1991 from sea ice and ocean data is presented and analyzed. The core of the observational data used in this study comprises the records from 12 moorings deployed in 1990 and 1991 in U. S. and Russian waters and two hydrographic surveys conducted in the region in the fall of 1990 and 1991. The observations are processed by a two-step data assimilation procedure involving the Pan-Arctic Ice-Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (employing a nudging algorithm for sea ice data assimilation) and the Semi-implicit Ocean Model [utilizing a conventional four-dimensional variational (4D-var) assimilation technique]. The reconstructed CS circulation is studied to identify pathways and assess residence times of Pacific water in the region; quantify the balances of volume, freshwater, and heat content; and determine the leading dynamical factors configuring the CS circulation. It is found that in 1990-1991 (high AO index and a cyclonic circulation regime) Pacific water transiting the CS toward the Canada basin followed two major pathways, namely via Herald Canyon (Herald branch of circulation, 0.23 Sv) and between Herald Shoal and Cape Lisburne (central branch of circulation and Alaskan Coastal Current, 0.32 Sv). The annual mean flow through Long Strait was negligible (0.01 Sv). Typical residence time of Pacific water in the region varied between 150 days for waters entering the CS in September and 270 days for waters entering in February/March. Momentum balance analysis reveals that geostrophic balance between barotropic pressure gradient and Coriolis force dominated for most of the year. Baroclinic effects were important for circulation only in the regions with large horizontal salinity gradients associated with the fresh Alaskan and Siberian coastal currents and the Cape Lisburne and Great Siberian polynyas. In the polynyas, the baroclinic effects were due to strong salinification and convection processes associated with sea ice formation.


©Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans

DOI: 10.1029/2009JC005453

Publication Title

Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans



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