Drivers of Laptev Sea interannual variability in salinity and temperature

P. A. Hudson, A. Martin, S. Josey, A. Marzocchi, A. Angeloudis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Eurasian rivers provide a quarter of total fresh water to the Arctic, maintaining a persistent fresh layer that covers the surface Arctic Ocean. This freshwater export controls Arctic Ocean stratification, circulation, and basin-wide sea ice concentration. The Lena River supplies the largest volume of runoff and plays a key role in this system, as runoff outflows into the Laptev Sea as a particularly shallow plume. Previous in situ and modelling studies suggest that local wind forcing is a driver of variability in Laptev sea surface salinity (SSS) but there is no consensus on the roles of Lena River discharge and sea ice cover in contributing to this variability or on the dominant driver of variability. Until recently, satellite SSS retrievals were insufficiently accurate for use in the Arctic. However, retreating sea ice cover and continuous progress in satellite product development have significantly improved SSS retrievals, giving satellite SSS data true potential in the Arctic. In this region, satellite-based SSS is found to agree well with in situ data (r>0.8) and provides notable improvements compared to the reanalysis product used in this study (r>0.7) in capturing patterns and variability observed in in situ data.

This study demonstrates a novel method of identifying the dominant drivers of interannual variability in Laptev Sea dynamics within reanalysis products and testing if these relationships appear to hold in satellite-based SSS, sea surface temperature (SST) data, and in situ observations. The satellite SSS data firmly establish what is suggested by reanalysis products and what has previously been subject to debate due to the limited years and locations analysed with in situ data; the zonal wind is the dominant driver of offshore or onshore Lena River plume transport. The eastward wind confines the plume to the southern Laptev Sea and drives alongshore transport into the East Siberian Sea, and westward wind drives offshore plume transport into the northern Laptev Sea. This finding is affirmed by the strong agreement in SSS pattern under eastward and westward wind regimes in all reanalyses and satellite products used in this study, as well as with in situ data. The pattern of SST also varies with the zonal wind component and drives spatial variability in sea ice concentration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-367
JournalOcean Science (OS)
Issue number2
Early online date18 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Mar 2024


Dive into the research topics of 'Drivers of Laptev Sea interannual variability in salinity and temperature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this