Variability of circumpolar deep water transport onto the Amundsen Sea Continental shelf through a shelf break trough

K. M. Assmann*, Adrian Jenkins, Deborah R. Shoosmith, D. P. Walker, S. S. Jacobs, K. W. Nicholls

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)
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The presence of warm Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) intrusions on the Amundsen continental shelf has been linked to recent thinning of the outlet glaciers draining the West Antarctic ice sheet into the Amundsen Sea. Inflow of the CDW onto the shelf is thought to occur within a series of troughs that intersect the continental shelf break. We use observations between 1994 and 2011 and a numerical model to investigate the variability of CDW transport in a trough intersecting the shelf break at 113°W. The location of the main CDW inflow into the trough varies between its eastern flank and center, while the western part of the trough is filled by a recirculation that commonly entrains cooler water originating further south on the shelf. Thermocline depth decreases between the early and late 2000s with an indication that the depth of the 1994 thermocline was similar to the later years. Mooring results show that the CDW layer cools and thins in summer and thickens and warms in winter. In addition to a deeper thermocline in summer, we observe a stronger presence of Lower CDW in the bottom of the trough. Heat flux onto the shelf is controlled by current velocities rather than CDW temperature and the majority of the heat is carried onto the shelf by background flow rather than episodic events. Key Points Variability of ocean heat transport across the Amundsen Sea shelf break Circumpolar Deep Water layer thickness has a distinct seasonal cycle Background flow supports the majority of on shelf heat transport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6603-6620
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number12
Early online date6 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


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