Oceanic Mixing Processes in Disko Bay-Ilulissat Icefjord System: Can We Quantify the Heat Loss from the Atlantic Water  Layer?

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Georges Djoumna, New York University Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and David M Holland, New York University, New York, NY, United States
Ilulissat Icefjord (IIF) has been the site of few hydrographic observations. Recent hydrographic data from Disko Bay (DB) showed a significant warming from the below of the cold Polar Water entering DB from the mid-to-late 1990s onward, and the sill at the fjord mouth prevented the modified West Greenland Irminger Waters (WGIW) to fill the IIF basin. Here we identify and attempt to quantify the fluxes associated with the small-scale processes that contribute to the upward diapycnal fluxes of heat, salt and from the modified WGIW to the surface-mixed layer using five years of summer data (2009 - 2013). The interaction between the WGIW and Egedesminde Dyb trough cutting across the continental shelf from the shelf break into DB creates the cold/warm layering of water masses which contribute to the formation of double diffusive thermohaline staircases. We found evidence of thermohaline staircase consists of series of sharp interfaces across which both T and S increase with depth separated by thick well-defined convective layers. We hypothesize that the warming of the PW layer in DB may have been caused by the upward heat fluxes from the AW driven double diffusive convection. Vertical heat fluxes estimated from laboratory-based flux laws for the diffusive regime of double diffusive convection were up to 0.2Wm2. The other major player responsible for the Atlantic water heat loss is shear instabilities in the internal wave and tides generated by barotropic tidal flow over the Egedesminde Dyb trough, the continental shelf and across the sill at the entrance of IIF. Using moored pressure data, we found that the fjord could be described as a wave-fjord during neap tide and turns into a tidal jet-fjord during spring tide, therefore a weak nonlinear response due to supercritical conditions with flow separation over the sill and a linear baroclinic tidal response due to the deeper right side of the sill could be expected. We found enhanced eddy diffusivity Kρ and dissipation rate ϵ up to 1.1×104m2s1 and 9.81×106Wkg1 respectively in the deeper water inside IIF extending over an area more than 10km from the sill depth. We attribute this high level of mixing rate to an internal wave radiated far away from the sill where it was previously generated.