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Volume 14, issue 5 | Copyright
Ocean Sci., 14, 1329-1347, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 29 Oct 2018

Research article | 29 Oct 2018

Structure and dynamics of mesoscale eddies over the Laptev Sea continental slope in the Arctic Ocean

Andrey Pnyushkov1,2, Igor V. Polyakov3, Laurie Padman4, and An T. Nguyen5 Andrey Pnyushkov et al.
  • 1International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, AK, USA
  • 2Global Institution for Collaborative Research and Education, Hokkaido University, Japan
  • 3International Arctic Research Center and College of Natural Science and Mathematics, University of Alaska Fairbanks, AK, USA
  • 4Earth & Space Research, Corvallis, OR, USA
  • 5Institute of Computational Engineering and Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin, TX, USA

Abstract. Heat fluxes steered by mesoscale eddies may be a significant, but still not quantified, source of heat to the surface mixed layer and sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean, as well as a source of nutrients for enhancing seasonal productivity in the near-surface layers. Here we use 4 years (2007–2011) of velocity and hydrography records from a moored profiler over the Laptev Sea slope and 15 months (2008–2009) of acoustic Doppler current profiler data from a nearby mooring to investigate the structure and dynamics of eddies at the continental margin of the eastern Eurasian Basin. Typical eddy scales are radii of the order of 10km, heights of 600m, and maximum velocities of  ∼ 0.1ms−1. Eddies are approximately equally divided between cyclonic and anticyclonic polarizations, contrary to prior observations from the deep basins and along the Lomonosov Ridge. Eddies are present in the mooring records about 20%–25% of the time, taking about 1 week to pass through the mooring at an average frequency of about one eddy per month.

We found that the eddies observed are formed in two distinct regions – near Fram Strait, where the western branch of Atlantic Water (AW) enters the Arctic Ocean, and near Severnaya Zemlya, where the Fram Strait and Barents Sea branches of the AW inflow merge. These eddies, embedded in the Arctic Circumpolar Boundary Current, carry anomalous water properties along the eastern Arctic continental slope. The enhanced diapycnal mixing that we found within EB eddies suggests a potentially important role for eddies in the vertical redistribution of heat in the Arctic Ocean interior.

Publications Copernicus
Short summary
A total of 4 years of velocity and hydrography records from moored profilers over the Laptev Sea slope reveal multiple events of eddies passing through the mooring site. These events suggest that the advection of mesoscale eddies is an important component of ocean dynamics in the Eurasian Basin of the Arctic Ocean. Increased vertical shear of current velocities found within eddies produces enhanced diapycnal mixing, suggesting their importance for the redistribution of heat in the Arctic Ocean.
A total of 4 years of velocity and hydrography records from moored profilers over the Laptev Sea...