Water mass properties derived from satellite observations in the Barents Sea

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The Barents Sea is a region of deep water formation where Atlantic Water is converted into cooler, fresher Barents Sea Water. Barents Sea Water properties exhibit variability at seasonal, interannual and decadal timescales. This variability is transferred to Arctic Intermediate Water, which eventually contributes to the deeper branch of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. Variations in Barents Sea Water properties are reflected in steric height (contribution of density to sea level variations) that depends on heat and freshwater content, and is a quantity usually derived from in situ observations of water temperature, salinity and pressure that remain sparse during winter in the Barents Sea. This analysis explores the utility of satellite observations for representing Barents Sea Water properties and identifying trends and sources of variability through novel methods. We present our methods for combining satellite observations of eustatic height
26 (the contribution of mass to sea level variations), sea surface height and temperature,
27 validated by in situ temperature and salinity profiles, to estimate steric height. We show
28 that sea surface temperature is a good proxy for heat content in the upper part of the
29 water column in the south-eastern Barents Sea, and that freshwater content can be re-
30 constructed from satellite data. Our analysis indicates that most of the seasonality in
31 Barents Sea Water properties arises from the balance between ocean heat transport and
32 atmospheric heat flux, while its interannual variability is driven by heat and freshwater
33 advection.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Jun 2020
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