Aerial Surveys of the Beaufort Sea Seasonal Ice Zone in 2012-2014
Abstract:Seasonal Ice Zone Reconnaissance Surveys (SIZRS) of the Beaufort Sea aboard U.S. Coast Guard Arctic Domain Awareness flights were made monthly from May 2012 to October 2012, June 2013 to August 2013, and June 2014 to October 2014. In 2012 sea ice extent reached a record minimum and the SIZRS sampling ranged from complete ice cover to open water; in addition to its large spatial coverage, the SIZRS program extends temporal coverage of the seasonal ice zone (SIZ) beyond the traditional season for ship-based observations, and is a good set of measurements for model validation and climatological comparison. The SIZ, where ice melts and reforms annually, encompasses the marginal ice zone (MIZ). Thus SIZRS tracks interannual MIZ conditions, providing a regional context for smaller-scale MIZ processes.
Observations with Air eXpendable CTDs (AXCTDs) reveal two near-surface warm layers: a locally-formed surface seasonal mixed layer and a layer of Pacific origin at 50-60m. Temperatures in the latter differ from the freezing point by up to 2°C more than climatologies. To distinguish vertical processes of mixed layer formation from Pacific advection, vertical heat and salt fluxes are quantified using a 1-D Price-Weller-Pinkel (PWP) model adapted for ice-covered seas. This PWP simulates mixing processes in the top 100m of the ocean. Surface forcing fluxes are taken from the Marginal Ice Zone Modeling and Assimilation System MIZMAS. Comparison of SIZRS observations with PWP output shows that the ocean behaves one-dimensionally above the Pacific layer of the Beaufort Gyre.
Despite agreement with the MIZMAS-forced PWP, SIZRS observations remain fresher to 100m than do outputs from MIZMAS and ECCO.2. The shapes of seasonal cycles in SIZRS salinity and temperature agree with MIZMAS and ECCO.2 model outputs despite differences in the values of each. However, the seasonal change of surface albedo is not high enough resolution to accurately drive the PWP. Use of ice albedo observations to scale shortwave radiation and salt fluxes improves agreement between observations and PWP outputs. Sensitivity analyses suggest that these are the two most impactful surface parameters on PWP output and that better knowledge of their seasonal changes—as well as better characterization of horizontal Pacific inflow—is imperative for future modeling.