Evolution of the Arctic Ocean Salinity 2007-08: Contrast between the Canadian and the Eurasian Basins

Peer Reviewed

Lique C, Garric G, Tréguier AM, Barnier B, Ferry N, Testut C-E, & Girard-Ardhuin F

Journal of Climate 24, Issue 6, pages 1705-1717, 2011, 10.1175/2010JCLI3762.1.

The authors investigate the variability of salinity in the Arctic Ocean and in the Nordic and Labrador Seas over recent years to see how the freshwater balance in the Arctic and the exchanges with the North Atlantic have been affected by the recent important sea ice melting, especially during the 2007 sea ice extent minimum. The Global Ocean Reanalysis and Simulations (GLORYS1) global ocean reanalysis based on a global coupled ocean–sea ice model with an average of 12-km grid resolution in the Arctic Ocean is used in this regard. Although no sea ice data and no data under sea ice are assimilated, simulation over the 2001–09 period is shown to represent fairly well the 2007 sea ice event and the different components accounting for the ocean and sea ice freshwater budget, compared to available observations. In the reanalysis, the 2007 sea ice minimum is due to an increase of the sea ice export through Fram Strait (25%) and an important sea ice melt in the Arctic (75%). Liquid freshwater is accumulated in the Beaufort gyre after 2002, in agreement with recent observations, and it is shown that this accumulation is due to both the sea ice melt and a spatial redistribution of the freshwater content in the Canadian Basin. In the Eurasian Basin, a very contrasting situation is found with an increase of the salinity. The effect of the sea ice melt is counterbalanced by an increase of the Atlantic inflow and a modification of the circulation north of Fram Strait after 2007. The authors suggest that a strong anomaly of the atmospheric conditions was responsible for this change of the circulation.

Keywords: Salinity, Arctic, Sea ice, Freshwater, Ocean circulation, Gyres
Categories: Arctic, Natural Science