Peter Winsor
Figure 1: Sketch of the primary pathways for the Arctic Ocean Boundary Current (see text for details). The boxes indicate the regions of focus for this proposal. Dashed arrows indicate greater uncertainty in the pathways.

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Project - Numerical Modeling - Dynamics of the Arctic Ocean Boundary Current: A Numerical Modeling Study of Key Locations
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One of the most prominent circulation features in the Arctic Ocean is the relatively narrow current that flows mainly along the upper continental slope around much of the ocean, called the Arctic Ocean Boundary Current (AOBC; see Figure 1). This circumpolar current is, in some sense, the “life blood” of the Arctic, because it is the major pathway by which water properties, heat, salt, contaminants, and tracers are distributed around the Arctic and delivered to the deep basins, thereby establishing many of the characteristics of the entire Arctic Ocean. For example, the AOBC is the primary source of heat content for the upper ocean of the Arctic, i.e. the so-called Atlantic Layer of warm, salty water between 200-800 m depth, with a temperature maximum located at about 300 m. The importance of the AOBC has led to numerous previous studies (e.g. Schauer et al., 1997, 2002; Rudels et al., 2000; McClimans et al., 2000; Woodgate et al., 2001; Karcher and Oberhuber, 2002; to name a few) and has provided motivation for the establishment of a multi-national, multi-institutional effort to develop and maintain a long-term monitoring program concentrating on the AOBC (Polyakov et al., 2003).

Observations show three key locations where the water properties and velocity structure of the AOBC are most likely established and/or altered: (1) St. Anna Trough, (2) Lomonosov Ridge, and (3) Mendeleyev Ridge and the Chukchi Borderland. At each location (outlined in Figure 1), the AOBC interacts with complex bathymetry, and the consequences propagate downstream as a modified AOBC to affect the remainder of Arctic. Despite the importance of these regions, sparse observations and dynamical complexity have limited our understanding of the dominant processes involved in the AOBC. Therefore, we proposed to investigate the fundamental dynamics of the AOBC within each of these regions using a three-dimensional, primitive-equation, numerical model in both idealized and realistic configurations. This work is now ongoing, funded by NSF OPP ANS. This work and proposal was proposed together with David C. Chapman who sadly passed away in July, 2004.

Support from the National Science Foundation is gratefully acknowledged.
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