Intermittent intense turbulent mixing under ice in the Laptev Sea continental shelf

Yueng Djern Lenn*, Tom P. Rippeth, Chris P. Old, Sheldon Bacon, Igor Polyakov, Vladimir Ivanov, Jens Hölemann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Vertical mixing in the bottom boundary layer and pycnocline of the Laptev Sea is evaluated from a rapidly sampled 12-h time series ofmicrostructure temperature, conductivity, and shear observations collected under 100% sea ice during October 2008. The bottom boundary turbulent kinetic energy dissipation was observed to be enhanced (∈ ~ 10-4 W m-3) beyond background levels (∈ ~ 10-6 W m-3), extending up to 10 m above the seabed when simulated tidal currents were directed on slope. Upward heat fluxes into the halocline-class waters along the Laptev Sea seabed peaked at ~ 4-8 W m-2, averaging out to ~ 2 W m-2 over the 12-h sampling period. In the Laptev Sea pycnocline, an isolated 2-h episode of intense dissipation (∈ ~ 10-3 W m-3) and vertical diffusivities was observed that was not due to a localized wind event. Observations from an acoustic Doppler current meter moored in the central Laptev Sea near theM2 critical latitude are consistent with a previous model in whichmixing episodes are driven by an enhancement of the pycnocline shear resulting from the alignment of the rotating pycnocline shear vector with the under-ice stress vector. Upward cross-pycnocline heat fluxes fromtheArctic halocline peaked at ~ 54 W m-2, resulting in a 12-h average of ~ 12 W m-2. These results highlight the intermittent nature of Arctic shelf sea mixing processes and how these processes can impact the transformation of Arctic Ocean water masses. The observations also clearly demonstrate that absence or presence of sea ice profoundly affects the availability of near-inertial kinetic energy to drive vertical mixing on the Arctic shelves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-547
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Continental shelf/slope
  • Mixing
  • Sea ice


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