16 Aug 2022
16 Aug 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

The response of sea ice and high salinity shelf water in the Ross Ice Shelf Polynya to cyclonic atmosphere circulations

Xiaoqiao Wang1, Zhaoru Zhang1,2, Michael S. Dinniman3, Petteri Uotila4, Xichen Li5, and Meng Zhou1,2 Xiaoqiao Wang et al.
  • 1School of Oceanography, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China
  • 2Key Laboratory for Polar Science, Polar Research Institute of China, Ministry of Natural Resources, 200136, Shanghai
  • 3Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA
  • 4Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research/Physics, Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • 5International Center for Climate and Environment Sciences, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Abstract. Coastal polynyas in the Ross Sea are important source regions of high salinity shelf water (HSSW) – the precursor of Antarctic Bottom Water that supplies the lower limb of the thermohaline circulation. Here, the response of sea ice production and HSSW formation to synoptic- and meso-scale cyclones were investigated for the Ross Ice Shelf Polynya (RISP) using a coupled ocean-sea ice-ice shelf model targeted on the Ross Sea. When synoptic-scale cyclones prevailed over RISP, sea ice production (SIP) increased rapidly by 20–30 % over the entire RISP. During the passage of mesoscale cyclones, SIP increased by about 2 times over the western RISP but decreased over the eastern RISP, resulting respectively from enhancement in the offshore and onshore winds. HSSW formation mainly occurred in the western RISP and was enhanced responding to the SIP increase under both types of cyclones. Promoted HSSW formation could persist for 12–48 hours after the decay of the cyclones. The HSSW export across the Drygalski Trough was negatively correlated with the meridional wind speed, while the export across the Glomar Challenger Trough was positively correlated with the meridional wind. Such correlations are mainly controlled by variations in geostrophic ocean currents that result from sea surface elevation change.

Xiaoqiao Wang et al.

Status: open (until 11 Oct 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2022-160', Anonymous Referee #1, 14 Sep 2022 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2022-160', Anonymous Referee #2, 28 Sep 2022 reply

Xiaoqiao Wang et al.

Xiaoqiao Wang et al.


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Short summary
The bottom water of global ocean originates from high-salinity water formed in polynyas in the Southern Ocean where sea ice coverage is low. This study reveals the impacts of cyclones on sea ice and water mass formation in the Ross Ice Shelf Polynya using numerical simulations. Sea ice production is rapidly increased caused by enhancement in offshore wind, promoting the high-salinity water formation in the polynya. Cyclones also modulate the transports of this water mass by wind-driven currents.