Spatial continuity of measured seawater and tracer fluxes through Nares Strait, a dynamically wide channel bordering the Canadian Archipelago
Abstract:Freshwater delivered as precipitation and runoff to the North Pacific and Arctic oceans returns to the Atlantic principally via the Canadian polar shelf and Fram Strait. It is conveyed as ice or freshened seawater. Here we use detailed ship-based measurements to calculate a snap-shot of volume, freshwater, and tracer fluxes through Nares Strait, a 500-km long waterway separating Greenland and Ellesmere Island. We use quasi-synoptic observations of current by ship-mounted acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP), of salinity and temperature by CTD probe and of dissolved nutrients by rosette bottle sampler on four cross-sections between 82 and 78N latitude. Data were collected during the first half of August 2003. We partition the fluxes into components derived from Pacific and Atlantic inflows into the Arctic Ocean. During the time of the survey, there was a net southward 0.91±0.10 Sv (106 m3 s-1) flux of volume and a net southward 31±4 10-3 Sv (977±127 km3 y-1) flux of freshwater relative to a salinity of 34.8. Much of the volume flux was carried within a strong (40 cm s-1), narrow (10 km) subsurface jet hugging the western (Ellesmere Island) side of the strait. The presence of this jet in four sections spanning the 500-km length of the strait is evidence of a buoyant boundary current through the strait. The jet was coincident with elevated concentrations of phosphate (1.0 mmol m-3) and silicate (11 mmol m-3) which both indicate a Pacific Ocean source. We interpreted the ratio of dissolved total inorganic nitrogen to phosphate in terms of fractional dilution of Atlantic by Pacific waters. About 0.43±0.10 Sv (39%) of the southward flow was of Pacific origin. These results are a snapshot during the summer of 2003 following a prolonged period of northward directed wind stress when ice cover was mobile. Although long-term mean values are likely different, we determined that the major fraction of the through-flow is carried by a jet of scale determined by the internal Rossby radius (5-10 km).
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2007-11-01
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