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Samuel Brenner

Research Assistant





Department Affiliation

Ocean Physics


2000-present and while at APL-UW

The evolution of a shallow front in the Arctic marginal ice zone

Brenner, S., L. Rainville, J. Thomson, and C. Lee, "The evolution of a shallow front in the Arctic marginal ice zone," Elem. Sci. Anth., 8, doi:10.1525/elementa.413, 2020.

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4 May 2020

The high degree of heterogeneity in the ice–ocean–atmosphere system in marginal ice zones leads to a complex set of dynamics which control fluxes of heat and buoyancy in the upper ocean. Strong fronts may occur near the ice edge between the warmer waters of the ice-free regions and the cold, fresh waters near and under the ice. This study presents observations of a well-defined density front located along the ice edge in the Beaufort Sea. The evolution of the front over a ~3-day survey period is captured by multiple cross-front sections measured using an underway conductivity–temperature–depth system, with simultaneous measurements of atmospheric forcing. Synthetic aperture radar images bookending this period show that the ice edge itself underwent concurrent evolution. Prior to the survey, the ice edge was compact and well defined while after the survey it was diffuse and filamented with coherent vortical structures. This transformation might be indicative of the development an active ocean eddy field in the upper ocean mixed layer. Over the course of hours, increasing wind stress is correlated with changes to the lateral buoyancy gradient and frontogenesis. Frontal dynamics appear to vary from typical open-ocean fronts (e.g., here the frontogenesis is linked to an "up-front" wind stress). Convective and shear-driven mixing appear to be unable to describe deepening at the heel of the front. While there was no measurable spatial variation in wind speed, we hypothesize that spatial heterogeneity in the total surface stress input, resulting from varying ice conditions across the marginal ice zone, may be a driver of the observed behaviour.

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center