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Journal of Oceanography, Vol. 65 (No. 5), pp. 587-603, 2009

Descending Surface Water at the Antarctic Marginal Ice Zone and Its Contribution to Intermediate Water: An Ice-Ocean Model

Yuri Hiraike* and Motoyoshi Ikeda

Graduate School of Environmental Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-0810, Japan

(Received 12 March 2008; in revised form 22 December 2008; accepted 11 May 2009)

Abstract: This study concerns the unique physical mechanism of Ekman convergence at the marginal ice zone (ECMIZ) produced by the difference between air-ice drag and air-water drag. A coupled ice-ocean model is used to show the strength and distribution of the ECMIZ with respect to Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) formation, which is important for the uptake of carbon dioxide. Strong ECMIZ occurs in the Atlantic and Pacific sectors from July to October, matched in time and space with ice melting, while it is significantly weaker due to strongly divergent background winds in the Indian sector. Transport analysis by artificial tracer experiments reveals the interannual variability of the ECMIZ correlates well with the Southern Annular Mode (SAM). The downward transport of surface water at the MIZ during a positive SAM (2001) is about 1.4 times as large as that during a negative SAM (2000). In particular, the transport in the Atlantic sector is twice that in the Pacific sector in both years. Once the downward flux is analyzed in isolation, the contribution from synoptic scale variability is found to increase the volume transport of surface water in the eastern region of the Pacific. Assuming strong isopycnal mixing, we suggest that ECMIZ is an important mechanism supplying surface water to the formation of AAIW, and its zonal variability is responsible for the interbasin differences in AAIW properties. In particular, the increased ECMIZ and surface melt water input in the Atlantic sector would produce AAIW that is colder and fresher than in the Pacific.


*Corresponding author E-mail: yuri@ees.hokudai.ac.jp


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