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Free Content The evolution of density currents and nepheloid bottom layers in the Ross Sea (Antarctica)

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In this study we have analyzed the thermohaline, light transmission and particulate matter data, obtained in the western sector of the Ross Sea during the X Italian Expedition, for the purpose of investigating the evolution of the High Salinity Shelf Water in this area. In particular CTD data were used to estimate the baroclinic velocity field. Light transmission and total particulate matter data (from Niskin bottles mounted on a Carousel water sampler) were used to analyze the nepheloid layers and the evolution of the suspended sediments. This basin is characterized by a northward flow of very dense High Salinity Shelf Water ( ∼ −1.95°C, S ∼ 34.90), much colder than the incoming Circumpolar Deep Water ( ∼ 1.20°C, S ∼ 34.70). We obtained a scenario in which the High Salinity Shelf Water interacts with the Circumpolar Deep Water along the Antarctic Slope Front, and deviates from its geostrophic equilibrium. Interestingly, this cold dense water mixes with Circumpolar Deep Water at the shelf break and flows downward until it seems to disappear. Below this cold flow, a thin turbulent current has been observed, again moving northward with a high velocity ∼ 0.2–1.0 m s−1. This thin flow also contains high concentration of suspended matter produced by the interaction of the dense water and the bottom sediments. The various elementary mechanisms ruling the dynamics of such down-flows, namely the effects of topographic irregularities, bottom friction, Ekman benthic boundary layers or the effect of the variability of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which can push offshore the dense water, are discussed in this paper.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-07-01

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  • The Journal of Marine Research publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. In the area of biology, studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. Authors benefit from thorough reviews of their manuscripts, where an attempt is made to maximize clarity. The time between submission and publication is kept to a minimum; there is no page charge.
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