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Arctic Air-Sea Fluxes and the Exchange Through Fram Strait


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Ocean & fiord systems
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The project will use theoretical and numerical modeling approaches to understand the movement of water, heat, and salt through the Fram Strait connecting the Nordic Seas to the Arctic Ocean. These variables are important because they influence the amount of ice formed in the eastern Arctic Ocean and the amount of water transported from coastal shelves to the ocean basin interior. Ice cover affects the amount of heat put into the atmosphere, atmospheric weather patterns, and private, commercial, and military marine navigation. Water temperature, salinity, and the exchange between the shelves and deep ocean help determine the abundance and species of marine life that can be supported in the region. Thus, understanding processes controlling flow through Fram Strait is of crucial importance for the climate system, the Arctic ecosystem, commercial and local fisheries, shipping, and national security. The investigator will incorporate results from this program into graduate level classes and lectures at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Summer School at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to provide training on numerical methods, applied mathematics, and computer modeling. This study addresses the fundamental dynamics of the Arctic Ocean general circulation and its connection to lower latitudes. The approach combines a multi-component theoretical model with an idealized but high-resolution eddy resolving coupled ocean/ice general circulation model of the Arctic. The goal is to relate basic quantities -- such as ice cover; freshwater content; air-sea exchange; and heat, freshwater, and mass transport through Fram Strait -- to external forcing due to wind, heat loss, runoff, and variations in Atlantic Water temperature and salinity advected in from the Nordic Seas. In addition to providing dynamical insight into the controlling physics, this approach allows for a simple assessment of how the system is likely to respond to changing environmental parameters and of the existence of multiple equilibria or abrupt transitions.