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Beth Curry

Senior Oceanographer





Department Affiliation

Ocean Physics


B.S. Civil Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2002

M.S. Physical Oceanography, University of Washington - Seattle, 2009

Ph.D. Physical Oceanography, University of Washington - Seattle, 2013


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Arctic Mediterranean exchanges: A consistent volume budget and trends in transports from two decades of observations

Østerhus, S., and 16 others including R. Woodgate, C.M. Lee, and B. Curry, "Arctic Mediterranean exchanges: A consistent volume budget and trends in transports from two decades of observations," Ocean Sci., 15, 379-399, doi:10.5194/os-15-379-2019, 2019.

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12 Apr 2019

The Arctic Mediterranean (AM) is the collective name for the Arctic Ocean, the Nordic Seas, and their adjacent shelf seas. Water enters into this region through the Bering Strait (Pacific inflow) and through the passages across the Greenland–Scotland Ridge (Atlantic inflow) and is modified within the AM. The modified waters leave the AM in several flow branches which are grouped into two different categories: (1) overflow of dense water through the deep passages across the Greenland–Scotland Ridge, and (2) outflow of light water — here termed surface outflow — on both sides of Greenland. These exchanges transport heat and salt into and out of the AM and are important for conditions in the AM. They are also part of the global ocean circulation and climate system. Attempts to quantify the transports by various methods have been made for many years, but only recently the observational coverage has become sufficiently complete to allow an integrated assessment of the AM exchanges based solely on observations. In this study, we focus on the transport of water and have collected data on volume transport for as many AM-exchange branches as possible between 1993 and 2015. The total AM import (oceanic inflows plus freshwater) is found to be 9.1 Sv (sverdrup, 1 Sv =106 m3 s-1) with an estimated uncertainty of 0.7 Sv and has the amplitude of the seasonal variation close to 1 Sv and maximum import in October. Roughly one-third of the imported water leaves the AM as surface outflow with the remaining two-thirds leaving as overflow. The overflow water is mainly produced from modified Atlantic inflow and around 70% of the total Atlantic inflow is converted into overflow, indicating a strong coupling between these two exchanges. The surface outflow is fed from the Pacific inflow and freshwater (runoff and precipitation), but is still approximately two-thirds of modified Atlantic water. For the inflow branches and the two main overflow branches (Denmark Strait and Faroe Bank Channel), systematic monitoring of volume transport has been established since the mid-1990s, and this enables us to estimate trends for the AM exchanges as a whole. At the 95 % confidence level, only the inflow of Pacific water through the Bering Strait showed a statistically significant trend, which was positive. Both the total AM inflow and the combined transport of the two main overflow branches also showed trends consistent with strengthening, but they were not statistically significant. They do suggest, however, that any significant weakening of these flows during the last two decades is unlikely and the overall message is that the AM exchanges remained remarkably stable in the period from the mid-1990s to the mid-2010s. The overflows are the densest source water for the deep limb of the North Atlantic part of the meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), and this conclusion argues that the reported weakening of the AMOC was not due to overflow weakening or reduced overturning in the AM. Although the combined data set has made it possible to establish a consistent budget for the AM exchanges, the observational coverage for some of the branches is limited, which introduces considerable uncertainty. This lack of coverage is especially extreme for the surface outflow through the Denmark Strait, the overflow across the Iceland–Faroe Ridge, and the inflow over the Scottish shelf. We recommend that more effort is put into observing these flows as well as maintaining the monitoring systems established for the other exchange branches.

Subannual and seasonal variability of Atlantic-origin waters in two adjacent West Greenland fjords

Carroll, D., D.A. Sutherland, B. Curry, J.D. Nash, E.L. Shroyer, G.A. Catania, L.A. Stearns, J.P. Grist, C.M. Lee, and L. de Steur, "Subannual and seasonal variability of Atlantic-origin waters in two adjacent West Greenland fjords," J. Geophys. Res., 123, 6670-6687, doi:10.1029/2018JC014278, 2018.

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1 Sep 2018

Greenland fjords provide a pathway for the inflow of warm shelf waters to glacier termini and outflow of glacially modified waters to the coastal ocean. Characterizing the dominant modes of variability in fjord circulation, and how they vary over subannual and seasonal time scales, is critical for predicting ocean heat transport to the ice. Here we present a 2‐year hydrographic record from a suite of moorings in Davis Strait and two neighboring west Greenland fjords that exhibit contrasting fjord and glacier geometry (Kangerdlugssuaq Sermerssua and Rink Isbrae). Hydrographic variability above the sill exhibits clear seasonality, with a progressive cooling of near‐surface waters and shoaling of deep isotherms above the sill during winter to spring. Renewal of below‐sill waters coincides with the arrival of dense waters at the fjord mouth; warm, salty Atlantic‐origin water cascades into fjord basins from winter to midsummer. We then use Seaglider observations at Davis Strait, along with reanalysis of sea ice and wind stress in Baffin Bay, to explore the role of the West Greenland Current and local air‐sea forcing in driving fjord renewal. These results demonstrate the importance of both remote and local processes in driving renewal of near‐terminus waters, highlighting the need for sustained observations and improved ocean models that resolve the complete slope‐trough‐fjord‐ice system.

Studies of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago water transport and its relationship to basin-local forcing: Results from AO-FVCOM

Zhang, Y., C. Chen, R.C. Beardsley, G. Gao, Z. Lai, B. Curry, C.M. Lee, H. Lin, J. Qi, and Q. Xu, "Studies of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago water transport and its relationship to basin-local forcing: Results from AO-FVCOM," J. Geophys. Res., 121, 4392-4415, doi:10.1002/2016JC011634, 2016.

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1 Jun 2016

A high-resolution (up to 2 km), unstructured-grid, fully coupled Arctic sea ice-ocean Finite-Volume Community Ocean Model (AO-FVCOM) was employed to simulate the flow and transport through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA) over the period 1978–2013. The model-simulated CAA outflow flux was in reasonable agreement with the flux estimated based on measurements across Davis Strait, Nares Strait, Lancaster Sound, and Jones Sounds. The model was capable of reproducing the observed interannual variability in Davis Strait and Lancaster Sound. The simulated CAA outflow transport was highly correlated with the along-strait and cross-strait sea surface height (SSH) difference. Compared with the wind forcing, the sea level pressure (SLP) played a dominant role in establishing the SSH difference and the correlation of the CAA outflow with the cross-strait SSH difference can be explained by a simple geostrophic balance. The change in the simulated CAA outflow transport through Davis Strait showed a negative correlation with the net flux through Fram Strait. This correlation was related to the variation of the spatial distribution and intensity of the slope current over the Beaufort Sea and Greenland shelves. The different basin-scale surface forcings can increase the model uncertainty in the CAA outflow flux up to 15%. The daily adjustment of the model elevation to the satellite-derived SSH in the North Atlantic region outside Fram Strait could produce a larger North Atlantic inflow through west Svalbard and weaken the outflow from the Arctic Ocean through east Greenland.

More Publications

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