The Laptev Sea flaw polynya, Russian Arctic: effects on the mesoscale hydrography

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A detailed analysis of hydrographic data from a period of 20 years (1980–99) has shown that the persistent presence of a flaw polynya influences mesoscale hydrography of the Laptev Sea, Russian Arctic. Based on these data, the interannual variability of surface water salinity within the polynya has been estimated. As the salinity increase in the surface water layer is mainly caused by the formation of new ice within the polynya, the average ice-production rate of the polynya was calculated. The results indicate an ice production of 3–4 m per season. A further aim of this study was to calculate the probability that the convective mixing in the polynya penetrates to the sea-floor. It is demonstrated that the probability is maximal in the flaw-polynya area, but does not exceed 20% in the eastern and 70% in the western part of the polynya, as a result of strong vertical density stratification from river runoff, especially in the eastern Laptev Sea. Additional studies of water circulation in the marginal zone of the flaw polynya were carried out during field observations in April–May 1999. On the basis of conductivity–temperature–depth and current measurements we deduce that high current velocities (62 cm s−1) recorded in surface waters near the fast-ice edge are caused by a convectively driven circulation system under the polynya. Our measurements indicate that these high-velocity currents are part of a cellular circulation, which results from the rejection of brine during intensive ice formation in the polynya. The observed azimuthal alignment of the crystalline structure of sea ice is also, most probably, the consequence of this quasi-stationary cellular circulation.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2001

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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