Report

Explaining the Weddell Polynya--a Large Ocean Eddy Shed at Maud Rise

Science  01 Jun 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5522, pp. 1697-1700
DOI: 10.1126/science.1059322

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Via your Institution

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Abstract

Satellite observations have shown the occasional occurrence of a large opening in the sea-ice cover of the Weddell Sea, Antarctica, a phenomenon known as the Weddell Polynya. The transient appearance, position, size, and shape of the polynya is explained here by a mechanism by which modest variations in the large-scale oceanic flow past the Maud Rise seamount cause a horizontal cyclonic eddy to be shed from its northeast flank. The shed eddy transmits a divergent Ekman stress into the sea ice, leading to a crescent-shaped opening in the pack. Atmospheric thermodynamical interaction further enhances the opening by inducing oceanic convection. A sea-ice–ocean computer model simulation vividly demonstrates how this mechanism fully accounts for the characteristics that mark Weddell Polynya events.

View Full Text