Investigating the Role of Mesoscale Processes and Ice Dynamics in Carbon and Iron Fluxes in a Changing Amundsen Sea (INSPIRE)

Linquan Mu1, Patricia L Yager1, Pierre St-Laurent2, Michael S Dinniman2, Hilde Oliver1, Sharon Elisabeth Stammerjohn3, Robert M Sherrell4 and Eileen E Hofmann2, (1)University of Georgia, Department of Marine Sciences, Athens, GA, United States, (2)Old Dominion University, Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography, Norfolk, VA, United States, (3)University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States, (4)Rutgers University, Marine and Coastal Sciences and Earth and Planetary Sciences, New Brunswick, NJ, United States
The Amundsen Sea, in the remote S. Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean, is one of the least studied Antarctic continental shelf regions. It shares key processes with other W. Antarctic shelf regions, such as formation of a recurring polynya, important ice shelf-ocean linkages, and high biological production, but has unique characteristics as well. The Amundsen Sea Polynya (ASP), features 1) large intrusions of modified Circumpolar Deep Water (mCDW) onto the continental shelf, 2) the fastest melting ice sheets in Antarctica, 3) the most productive coastal polynya and a large atmospheric CO2 sink, and 4) very rapid declines in seasonal sea ice. Here we report on a new effort for this region that unites independent, state-of-the-art modeling and field data synthesis efforts to address important unanswered questions about carbon fluxes, iron supply, and climate sensitivity in this key region of the coastal Antarctic. Following on the heels of a highly successful oceanographic field program, the Amundsen Sea Polynya International Research Expedition (ASPIRE; which sampled the ASP with high spatial resolution during the onset of the enormous phytoplankton bloom of 2011), the INSPIRE project is a collaboration between ASPIRE senior scientists and an experienced team of physical and biogeochemical modelers who can use ASPIRE field data to both validate and extend the capabilities of an existing Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) for the Amundsen Sea. This new effort will add biology and biogeochemistry (including features potentially unique to the ASP region) to an existing physical model, allowing us to address key questions about bloom mechanisms and climate sensitivity that could not be answered by field campaigns or modeling alone. This project is expected to generate new insights and hypotheses that will ultimately guide sampling strategies of future field efforts investigating how present and future climate change impacts this important region of the world.